Lyrika Holmes
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Lyrika Holmes

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | SELF

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | SELF
Band R&B Jazz

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"Lyrika Making the harp look cool!"

Nyah Nile

I recently met a talented and sweet-spirited artist, singer, teacher and songwriter who plays the harp. Her name is Lyrika and she’s scheduled to perform Oct. 17 at The 14th Annual Stone Awards at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. I interviewed her so you can get to know her too.

Nyah: Tell me the history. When did you start playing the harp and what is the story behind that?

Lyrika: I started playing about 21 years ago. I had taken piano lessons from age five on up to middle school. I was getting ready to switch to double bass, but my parents decided it was time for me to venture out. They wanted me to play a new instrument that no one else in the family could play yet. So in 6th grade I was pretty much told this is what you will learn to play. Many of the people in my family either played an instrument or sang. I just followed in the tradition.

Of course I didn’t enjoy having to carry it to school on the bus. Everyone always referred to me as the harp girl who blocked the rows to the back. I didn’t have the passion for the instrument until my junior year. That was when I was introduced to Mrs. Maria Pinckney at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis. She was my third harp instructor, and one of the main reasons that I fell in love with the instrument. She knew I loved to sing, but wondered why I always accompanied myself on the piano versus the harp. I told her I had only been taught the classical aspects of the harp and that it was considered somewhat taboo to play other genres on it because it takes away from its beauty. Needless to say, she taught me otherwise and is also the reason why I began to teach harp here in the Memphis City Schools.

Lyrica
By self-definition, Lyrica is “an artist without boundaries, someone who is willing to step out of the box…a combination of the old and the new R&B but with a twist of soulful and soothing.” (Courtesy photos)
Lyrica
The multi-talented Lyrica teaches the harp to Memphis City Schools students.

Nyah: Wow, you teach the harp here in Memphis to kids. I am sure you make playing the harp look too cool to them. Tell me how you spent the earlier years in your music career?

Lyrika: During my early years I played in lots of recitals. During my undergrad at the University of Missouri-St. Louis I performed with the orchestras, the concert band and the jazz ensemble. I also had fun playing with the St. Louis Youth Symphony and doing lots of weddings, and club gigs around town too.

Nyah: What brings you joy the most in playing the harp?

Lyrika: When I play it relaxes me. It’s as if what’s going on around me doesn’t matter because I can find solitude in and with it. I also love the effect it has on my audiences’ moods when I’m performing. It is one of the few instruments that even though it has a soft timbre, it speaks loud to the soul. The harp is powerful and moving without all the extras.

Nyah: What you’re bringing to the Memphis music scene is beautiful and you deserve to be seen and heard globally. Tell me what you think about that?

Lyrika: Thank you. I agree. I want my students and other young children to know the depth of this instrument. I have 40 harp students this year and I don’t want them to put boundaries on what they can and can’t do with this monstrous instrument. I feel that if I am out there showing them that I can succeed with this talent God has given me, then they can too.

Nyah: Lyrika is such a beautiful name. Is it your real name? What is the meaning of Lyrika?

Lyrika: Lyrika is my alter ego I guess you could say. My real name is Erica Ball-Holmes. But, my manager and producer wanted a name that wrapped my personality, singing, and playing all in one. Therefore we chose Lyrika. I am a songwriter first, then an artist second. On my album “Mixed Emotions” I co-wrote all the songs with my producer Al Spears. That is one of the reasons I chose Lyrika, which the true form, lyric, comes from. Secondly, we are used to rap artists talking about their lyrical flow, but my flow comes from the harp.

Nyah: Define the artist Lyrika?

Lyrika: I would define Lyrika as an artist without boundaries, someone who is willing to step out of the box. Lyrika is a combination of the old and the new R&B but with a twist of soulful and soothing.

Nyah: Who is your biggest fan?

Lyrika: I would have to say my mom hands down. Even before I could play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” right, she was right there yelling, “That’s my baby!” Even though she’s in St. Louis, she still drives down to some of my shows and supports me in all that I do.

Nyah: Your original pieces are jamming….I want “Attention” right now on my iPod. What’s on your iPod?

Lyrika: I have some of everything: Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Onerepublic, Kayne West, Jay-Z, Marvin Gaye, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonius Monk, John Legend and Beethoven, to name a few. My parents exposed me to a wide variety of music growing up in a musical household. I love some of everything.

For more info on Lyrika, check out Cdbaby.com/lyrikaholmes or visit her Web site www.lyrikamusic.com or www.myspace.com/lyrikaholmes.

The album “Mixed Emotions” will be available on Itunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and Amazon beginning Nov. 7th. The album “Lyrika’s Harp” is available on Cdbaby! - Tri-State Defender


Discography

Single: "Attention"
LP: Mixed Emotions
LP: Lyrika's Harp (Acoustic Cover Tunes)
LP: Harp for the Holidays

Photos

Bio

International performing artist "Lyrika Holmes" is an African-American recording artist, singer, harpist, songwriter and teacher. Lyrika was born and raised by her parents in St. Louis, MO. Lyrika started playing the piano at the age of 5. In junior high her parents encouraged her to step out of the box, and play something different, this is when she made the switch to harp. Since that day, Lyrika has been showing us just how hot the harp can be.

Though classically trained with a Bachelors in Music Education from UM-St. Louis and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Memphis, her musical style stretches across several genres. Influenced by phenomenal singers and songwriters, Lyrika's voice is distinct, with a combination of Lauryn Hill, India Arie, Lala Hathaway and a hint of John Legend but with an electric harp that sometimes sounds as if Jimmy Hendrix is playing.

Recognized not only as a performer, Lyrika is also a distinguished educator and founder of the first harp program at the elementary level in the state of Tennessee. It was because of her unique style, love for teaching, and passion for music, that she also recently received an endorsement from “Harpsicle Harps”.

Lyrika performed for numerous events and occasions around the world, including her most recent excursion to Shanghai, China. She has also shared the stage with many phenomenal artists such as: Aretha Franklin, Howard Hewitt, Paula Michelle, to name a few, and recently r&b artist Joe, Laura Izibor, Phil Perry, and Miles Jaye. Showing a side of the harp that it all her own, which promises to captivate and soothe the mind, body and soul.