Home-grown artiste honoured abroad

Multi-talented Lyia Meta was named Female Vocalist of the Year and Performance of the Year at the Texas Sounds International Country Music Award held in Marshall, from October 13 to 16.

Oct 28, 2022

Lyia Meta performing with Zack for the 2021 Texas Sounds International Country Music Awards where she won Female Vocalist of the the Year and Entertainer of the Year.

By Gwen Manickam
Multi-talented Lyia Meta was named Female Vocalist of the Year and Performance of the Year at the Texas Sounds International Country Music Award held in Marshall, from October 13 to 16.

All performers received an official Congressional Certificate of Superlative Achievement Recognition, presented and signed by the US Congressman Louie Gohmert from the House of Representatives, in recognition of extraordinary dedication to the performing arts.

The Melaka-born singer-songwriter, who continues to make waves on the global front though barely recognised at home for her talents and international awards, competed and won at the above awards for the second consecutive year. She contested against artists from 15 countries in all categories, including Best Original Song, Best Entertainer, Best Vocalist, and Best Female Artist, to name a few.

In 2021, Lyia was voted Female Vocalist of the Year and Virtual Entertainer of the Year for the same award after participating via a pre-recorded show. Married to guitarist Zack, the mother of one was unable to attend in person for lack of funding. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture denied financial help after giving Lyia the run-around for five months.

“It was too late to raise the RM60,000 needed for my husband and me to make the 10-day trip. Graciously, the East Texas Performing Arts Inc vice-president, Preston Taylor, insisted Lyia take part via a pre-recorded show.

“Friends at Big A Productions stepped in at the last minute and donated an elaborate stage for me to perform and record a 30-minute segment.” Lyia performed five original country/blues releases.

Three weeks later she was short listed alongside Billie Eilish and Beyonce for the Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
“Billie Eilish won in the pop category for No Time to Die while Beyoncé (R&B) and I (Jazz) didn’t,” quipped the lanky songstress. “It was just incredible to be acknowledged alongside.”

Lyia comes from a Kristang family rich in artistic and musical talents. “My parents divorced when I was a teenager and life was pretty chaotic but music and art were always around me. I began composing songs as a teenager, and in my 20s, an international music label scouted me to record an album.

“However, the label manager said I needed more experience in stage performances. That’s how I began performing with Zack. While he took me under his wing and guided me, I was also exposed to the harsh realities of life on stage, and didn’t pursue cutting a record back then.”

Lyia and Zack married within a year and later welcomed a son. Stalwarts of the local live-music circuit, the duo spent the next couple of decades performing at various gastropubs, clubs, hotels, and private events, while keeping the focus on raising their home-schooled child.

“It was only after our son grew up that I started concentrating on what I wanted to do for myself.” She revisited her love for the visual arts and in 2014, held her first solo exhibition Apperception: Kaleidoscopic Nuances.

Lyia composed and released her first EP, This is Lyia, a rock album in 2016. The Malaysian-Portuguese-Sinhalese-Chinese lass’ powerhouse singing voice, composing talent, and exuberant stage presence have since earned her over 20 music award nominations, including a nomination for Best New Artiste at the 2016 Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) and Best Overall Female Act at the Voice Independent Music Awards (VIMA) in May of the same year.

Like the crooner’s smoky, sultry, and soulful vocals that stretches across multiple genres, her compositions include country, metal, jazz, funk, R&B, rock, blues, and pop music. She released a traditional pop album with jazz and R&B tracks titled 15013 in 2020, and this year, launched her funk R&B album You Think About Me, which she co-wrote and co-produced with Nashville-based billboard charting artist Bob McGilpin. The Eurasian vocalist will release a metal and traditional jazz album soon.

While Lyia’s songs are gaining airplay on radio stations in the UK, US, and Australia, in Malaysia, station heads have turned her down with unsolicited advice like “could you try singing like Taylor Swift or maybe compose like Ed Sheeran”.

At the American-based Josie Music Awards, the largest award show which celebrates independent artists from all genres worldwide, Lyia won the 2018 World Music Artiste of The Year and 2019 Artiste of The Year (multi-genre) categories.

This year, with two awards from Texas, at press time, she heads to Nashville, Tennessee to walk the red carpet at the world-famous home of country music, the Grand Ole Opry, where the Josie Music Awards ceremony is held. According to the website, the awards received 52,442 submissions this year, and only 1.8 per cent of them received a nomination, of which Lyia is up for EP of the Year and Vocalist of the Year (multi-genre).

Grammy-balloted Lyia has also earned accolades in Hollywood, London, and Rome. Last year she was a featured artist in the Rolling Stone Magazine, India.

“I have no idea why, but in my life, I always seem to be directed to take the harder path. I have accepted it as God’s way of making me stronger to face what’s coming next,” said the Church of the Risen Christ parishioner.

Amidst multiple roadblocks and trials, Lyia said, “Somehow God seems to lead me back to music, and things fall into place. When I am frazzled and question all that is not going well, my husband will say, “Trust God.” That grounds me to surrender and let go.”

Upon returning from the US, Lyia heads to perform at the International Independent Music Festival India by invitation of the Kerala Ministry of Tourism in November. She then heads to Sarawak for the annual Miri Country Music Fest, before taking a much-deserved break and spending Christmas with family and friends.

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