When the trumpets sound, bells toll and cheers erupted across the world in recognition of Queen Elizabeth II’s achievement of an astounding Platinum Jubilee, Lorraine Lionheart’s vocal stylings formed a part of this sonic landscape on 2nd June 2022.
Having been entrusted with reimagining a song titled “A Life Lived With Grace,” the UK-based Motswana singer opted to change the gears of the metred, ethereal hymnal to rouse the interest and engagement of youth across the Commonwealth. Lionheart’s Afro-fusion arrangement of the song is both stirring and infectious. Her Majesty’s Platinum Anniversary honoured Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the British throne. This makes the British monarch, who ascended to the throne upon the death of her father King George VI, the longest serving living monarch in the history of the world.
Crowned at the tender age of 25, the world has watched her embody the title of Lucy Kiely’s winning lyrics. Through Commonwealth Resounds, an accredited music organisation focusing on music education and composition, songwriters from the Commonwealth were invited to pen lyrics to songs that would mark this momentous event.
Having previously worked with Lionheart on some royal occasions, she was deemed the right fit and she ran with the assignment. “I can never pass on an opportunity to create art that celebrates my African musical cultures,” says the Ethnomusicology PhD candidate, adding that the project was made more personal by wanting “to celebrate the Queen as a leader and grandmother” in homage to her own grandmother.
While she confesses the surrealism of being a Motswana girl from the Kalahari Desert being endowed with such an historic responsibility, Lionheart used it to open doors for others like her. The catchy tune was the product of engaging the talents of other musicians from the Commonwealth to produce a familiar sound that could unite everyone regardless of nationality.
Touting the adage, Kgetsi ya tsie e kgonwa ke go tshwaraganelwa, Lionheart says she hopes that this feat may shine on others in the way that Fela Kuti’s hypnotic global presence opened, and continuously so, imaginaries for many artists from the African continent and abroad. The Queen’s Pageantmaster, Bruno Peek, LVO OBE OPR, further affirmed Lionheart’s contribution, saying she “is greatly appreciated by all of us. I hope that Botswana will give her the accolades and praise that she so richly deserves!”
While Lionheart is still enrolled at S.O.A.S. University of London in pursuit of a Doctorate, she has her intentions rooted in doing all she can to honour the nation that moulded her. “Being a Motswana is so important to me and it is part of what really keeps me grounded and focused on the bigger picture,” she beams, concluding that her role will be to direct the world’s attention to Botswana so as to “share our wealth of cultural diversity through tourism and investment”. The festivities in June form part of a vast global calendar that befittingly celebrates a life of servitude through countless trials and is a living testament to graceful fortitude. Thanks to Lionheart, Botswana was definitely there in full force.