Luh’ra is a Cape Town-based acoustic soul singer-songwriter, known for her extraordinary abilities on her golden guitar and remarkable lyricism. Her music is instilled with soothing melodies and emotional timbre, sharing intimate emotions through her lyrics, while concurrently urging listeners to ruminate on their personal experiences. Having performed alongside acclaimed South African musicians like Ex Olympic, Manny Walters, and Jitsvinger, she swiftly made a name for herself since she started out in 2017. 

She started her musical journey at the Blank Projects gallery in Woodstock, where she also worked at the time, with her first audio-visual performance, Spaces in Time. This piece had her as vocal front woman, armed with her trustworthy guitar, accompanied by a band comprising of drums, bass, and harp, with enthralling visuals projected over them. She said, “Because it was a gallery and an open space there was quite a cool echo. I would often sing in there when I was alone. The echo tempted me into hosting the event.”

It is evident through her live performances and social media presence that Luh’ra is a very visual artist. She is fascinated by fashion and it is definitely a big source of joy for her. She has the ability to pull off and have everyone look on in envy, everything from a flamboyant pantsuit to an oversized t-shirt and shorts, with her plain slip-on Vans. “I dress according to my mood and to make myself feel a certain type of way,” she says. How personal one’s look is, but yet it remains an outward expression, intrigues her. The abundance of people with diverse, au courant styles in Cape Town, keeps her on her toes to try new things and “keep it fresh”. Living in Observatory, the heart of the second-hand clothing craze that has swooped the nation, she says she is very blessed to be walking distance from some of the finest vintage stores around and is able to get her hands on some prime second-hand gems. Living here also allows her to constantly be surrounded by like-minded creatives. To her, style is when you don’t choose an item but it lands on your lap and you are compelled to do something with it. One especially memorable piece she has worn for a show at The Two Ocean’s Aquarium was a pink Prince-inspired suit by Cape Town-based fashion designer, Blünke, whose brand Trotste Tert is known for inspiring space rodeo looks.

Luh’ra is known for performing in captivating settings such as charming galleries, verdant plant shops, ritzy boutique stores, and tranquil aquariums. Some of these include studio 11:11, The Roving Bantu Kitchen, Studio One, Slave Church, Raptor Room, and the Two Ocean’s Aquarium. She says it is important that space is a good reflection of how she wants her music to be received. Her study background in architecture makes it even clearer that she bears everything in mind, such as the venue, imagery, and even her appearance, when preparing for a performance, which adds to her appreciation for her art and art in general. 

She released her four-track debut EP, Luh’ra Luv, last year. Since this was her first recorded musical offering to the world, she wanted it to be a positive one. She describes it as, “An offering of love, the most luxurious gift. It is an introduction to me and my music.” When asked about the message she tries to get across in her music she replies, “My music is quite vulnerable. I’d like to remind people that that is valid.” This is clear in the tenderness of her vocals, lyrics, and compositions of every single song. To promote the album she went on a nation-wide tour. Although she was funded by Concerts SA, she had to put a lot of effort into curating and organising the tour herself. “It was a good learning curve to learn how to delegate tasks to other people,” Luh’ra says. 

As for other artists, the nationwide lockdown has been stressful for Luh’ra, but she says in a lot of ways she has really enjoyed the “complete digital transition” because she’s been able to tap into new forms of live performances over technological platforms. She’s tried to see the positive in the situation, saying, “Perhaps previously there were always things that I wanted to attend but for whatever reason, be it money or time, I couldn’t. Now, it’s so easy to stay connected with culture in a different form and I’m really happy about it.”

When asked about what the future holds for her, she said, “Secrets and surprises. Mysterious disguises. Some things I like to be kept private.”

Luh’ra is truly a one-of-a-kind artist that takes her time to produce and present her own events, paying meticulous attention to aesthetic details, allowing viewers to join her on a refreshingly unique audio-visual journey with every performance.

Photos by Andile Buka, Elijah Ndoumbe, Theodore Afrika & Keith Virgo

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