A girl that’s trying to make her mark on the world. Slimi Magazine goes on a journey with Leona Moore, better known in her home country of Monrovia, Liberia, as Lady Mouthphy and how she overcame the innumerable obstacles in her life. After fleeing Liberia with her mother and father to escape the Liberian Civil War, they found refuge in Ghana, where Leona discovered her voice of song. Little did she know that this talent would transport her onto the world stage.
Leona was especially keen to begin our interview discussing her challenging upbringing in a war-ravaged country.
I was very young but one thing that I do remember vividly is that there was a lot of death. Girls were being raped by soldiers, whole families were being killed and I had friends that were ruthlessly murdered. I was scared at every moment of the day. I would not wish that kind of life on anyone; that’s not living. As a result of the Liberian Civil War, my family, in the middle of the night, fled Liberia to find refuge in Ghana. Coming to Ghana was terrifying in itself and some days we went without food or water. My primary goal was to work out a way to escape the refugee camp but, at that time, the Ghanaians were somewhat reluctant to accept outsiders. However, to facilitate our integration, my mother made sure that we all learnt the local culture and language. Eventually, we were able to leave the camp and develop strong links with the people of Ghana, who were very good to my family. All in all, we spent ten years there.
Our conversation then segued into Leona’s passion for music. She was explained to us how she first got involved.
In Ghana there was a church that was always filled with music with kids singing. All the people passing would stop and listen and I can still remember, when I was a child, the joy on their faces. The people were really enjoying what they were hearing. This got me hooked, I wanted to make people feel the emotions I saw on their faces with my own voice. This is exactly what I did! I started singing with the church and I learnt everything from breathing techniques to note control.
But it was not all smooth sailing from there for Leona.
It’s crazy how you remember certain moments in your life but I’ll never forget the day my father came to my mother and me to say “the Liberian Civil War is over. It’s time to go back home.” I remember having this strange feeling of sadness wash over me: I was preparing for my last year in High School and I had created a life in Ghana: I was even in a girl group called “ G’Girls”! Why did we have to leave now?. But we eventually returned to attempt to rebuild our lives. Who would have thought that soon after, my music career would’ve taken off? Hindsight really is 20/20!
By the time we moved back, my parents were in full support of my musical aspirations: my father was my first manager! After what felt like a million meetings, I finally signed with a very ambitious manager named Dr. Kimmie. He was a no-nonsense guy and from the moment the ink on the paper had dried, the real work started. They flew me to South Africa to complete my debut album and I felt like everything was moving extremely quickly. A few weeks after my 1st single, “Falling”, dropped my 2nd single, “Brand new girl”, was launched. The complete album was translated for the people of Ghana, where I did some of my first collaborations with other artists I really admired, including Sugar Kwame and one of my still good friends, Yapoo. The album did very well. We were all extremely happy. With this album, I performed all over Africa. I knew what was coming next but the thought of going to the United States scared me.