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  • If there's one defining feature of Lulu Dikana's career - aside from her quite brilliant artistic gifts - is how frustratingly stop-start it has been.

    Just ask her fans. No sooner had Lulu released her 2008 debut solo album 'My Diary, My Thoughts' to no small amount of critical acclaim and a positive radio reception (for songs like 'Real Love' and 'Life and Death') then she was off performing a season at the Barnyard Theatre that pretty much consumed her.

    "I had signed the Barnyard contract at about the same time as the album came out and I could not let them down by pulling out of the show," Lulu says now, displaying what is clearly a trademark sense of integrity.

    Lulu also says there was a very telling upside to her stint at the Barnyard in the closing months of 2008. "I came to the Barnyard only a singer, armed with just a beginners performance course from the Market Theatre. But they took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to try my hand at musical theatre which was great fun and a very good learning experience," Lulu explains. "But I came out of that knowing that what I really want to be is a singer and a songwriter and not a theatrical performer."

    "The only thing that got me through was prayer and the power of words," this acclaimed songwriter says now. "Words have so much power. What you say happens - I really believe that. When we were growing up I used to tell my sisters from a young age not to say things they didn't mean because of the power of words."

    "It has made me an even more responsible writer," she says simply. 'I have always used my music as some kind of vehicle to inform people and inspire them - but believe this even more so now. I know that I have put my belief in the power of words to the test and I have come through it so I need to think very carefully about what I write in the future," Lulu says.

    Lulu also admits that there was something prescient about "This is the Life" which is her new album and the words she captures on the album have a particular potency given what she has gone through. Songs like the beautiful 'Saviour' can't help but resonate with Lulu.

    What's also remarkable about 'This is the LIfe' is how effortlessly well the music on it stands up, the ambitious approach Lulu took to the material means the songs sound fresh - full of the musical fire that first saw critics and fans thrilling to its sounds.

    At the centre of it all is Lulu's strong, emotional and powerful voice - and her intensely wrought words that prove she's got what it takes to make a real career out of her music, now that her health issues are behind her. It's no surprise, really, given her music lineage, which includes sister Zonke and her late father's jazz talents.

    "I am a songwriter and a singer - I know that for certain now," Lulu states firmly. "My success is going to be judged on how my music impacts the world - not by how many units I may have sold or what awards I have won. Connecting with people in a personal way that means something in their life is why I am doing this." And there is no better place to feel this than through the amazing Lulu Dikana and her album "This is the Life"