They say charity begins at home and no one seems to have taken this adage more literally than our very own United Kingdom-based songstress, Lorraine Lionheart. Notwithstanding her eleven years living in the UK, and a little trace of the British accent, she looks every bit the true identity of a young inspired African woman who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it.
Lionheart, an orphan herself, is in the country to raise money for two orphanages, the Botswana Orphan Project and Windows of Hope, through her music.
“I wanted to do a show in Botswana and after setting the date having everything in place, I still felt something was missing. It did not feel right to come here, make money and go back.”
She says that was when she decided to do it for charity.
“I was specific that I wanted to assist a charity organisation that deals with orphans and street kids purely because I am an orphan myself,” she says.
Lionheart hopes her coming from a poor background in Hukuntsi and doing well for herself, will inspire a lot of young orphans to know that even without conventional parental guidance and love, they can still achieve their dreams.
Lionheart, who describes her music as ‘world fusion’, says she only discovered she wanted to sing for a living four years ago.
She left Botswana in 2003 to study Performing Arts but says she could not finish her studies due to life circumstances.
Born and bred in Kgalagadi, she credits Basarwa culture as having influenced her direction in music.
“As part of living amongst Basarwa I got to develop a great appreciation for music and a much deeper concept of using music as a form of healing; I use elements of their music in my songs and it just feels like home,” she says. “Like every other child growing up I have tried to emulate mainstream pop icons but I never could sound like anyone of them and, as I matured, both as a person and a musician, I started to appreciate my own sound and the fact that it is alright to sound different.”
But Lionheart admits it was not until people started appreciating her music that she felt she was doing something right. One of her beautiful singles, About a Girl, was inspired by a traditional Setswana folk song, ‘Mmangwane’, which she had used as an opening at a couple of shows. The beautiful tale, coupled with the African inspired beat, will resonate with many Batswana.
The other song, Smile, was dedicated to her eighty-six-year old grandmother and she says she will only perform it once, at the charity concert, and never again.
“The only reason I am going to perform it at the concert is because she will be there,” Lionheart says.
She mentions American legends, the late singer/songwriter Johnny Cash and Paul Simon as some of her influences. She once shared the stage with local jazz maestro, Banjo Mosele in Oslo, Norway, and says she will also be performing with Vee in the UK in September as part of the Independence Day celebrations.
Lorraine Lionheart, real name Lorraine Thomas, will be performing at Westwood International School (Gaborone) on Saturday August 31st and the proceeds will go to charity.