Mercy Myra
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Mercy Myra

Marietta, Georgia, United States | SELF

Marietta, Georgia, United States | SELF
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The best kept secret in music

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Still working on that hot first release.

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Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Mercy Myra

Mer?cy [‘m?r-se] noun – Showing compassion and patience; a blessing

My?ra [mi-ra] – Wonderful one

“I don’t really remember when it started … I’ve just been singing forever, since I was born. I never really thought about becoming a singer, never thought I had the vocal talent. But I love to sing.”

Definitely born to sing, Mercy Myra was once lauded as Kenya’s leading female R&B artist, often viewed as a female pioneer in the Kenyan music scene from the late nineties to 2005. She truly made her mark with a string of hits from two successful CD releases: Taba Samu (2001) and Nyisri Malong’o (2003). Favorites like “I’m Gonna Fly”, “Maneno”, “Life”, “Imagine” and “Tie Dero” topped the African music charts. International performances, tours and guest appearances came next, as well as numerous awards and accolades. An extended hiatus followed, which left many longtime fans of this Kenyan diva wondering over the years, “Where is Mercy Myra?”

Residing in the United States since 2005, the Atlanta-based songstress took time away from the spotlight to experience life and focus on her new family. But she has always kept close ties to music, becoming involved in the burgeoning Atlanta music scene and channeling her life experiences into her singing -- which has always remained close to her heart -- as well as penning lyrics. Listen to Mercy’s current work and you will understand that the powerful talent is still there and the voice, in fact, has become more seasoned and refined with time. At times it is powerful yet playful, sultry yet calming, commanding yet hauntingly beautiful.

She feels very close to her newest single, “Home”, which touches on the subject of missing her native Kenya and will appear on her upcoming third CD, to be released in mid-2012. Grounded yet airy percussion, as well as a subtle bass line allow the song to have a natural feel, as if evoking the four elements of nature: water, air, fire and earth. This, combined with Mercy’s layering of Swahili over English lyrics will remind old fans of why they admire her so much and take new fans on a true musical journey back home with her to where it all started. “I love ‘Home’ … the instrumentation … it totally relates to what I have been looking for in a song.”

Although her music is often categorized as R&B, Mercy prefers to think of it as “Afro-Fusion”, which as she sees it, combines the African world with the Western world via instrumentation, music production and lyrics in various languages. She broke music barriers at a time when the Kenyan music scene was male-dominated and filled mostly with artists who performed “traditional” Kenyan music. As she explains it, “Anything other than traditional music was considered ‘alternative’ and I was categorized as alternative/R&B. Several artists at the time performed traditional music from their tribes and in their native dialects. They also performed in Swahili, but it was still considered traditional music.”

She has the ability to easily lace together lyrics in English, Swahili and Luo (her native dialect), as well as French and Dutch. These are often interwoven with African, Jazz, Pop, Spanish and Hip-Hop rhythms, among other Western sounds. “Music is an international language … I don’t have to understand all the words,” she says with a slight chuckle.

From an early age Mercy was encouraged to sing in the church choir and during family gatherings. She comes from a talented family of singers and musicians who have always supported her musical efforts. “As a child, I was privileged to have a lot of music always being played in our house. My mom was a music lover who collected music of all genres. We weren’t allowed to choose just one style of music.”

Her other musical influences run the gamut, from African queens such as Miriam Makeba, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Angelique Kidjo, to European and American artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Millie Jackson, Luther Vandross,