Back on stage – Pacific Music Awards concert banishes covid blues
By Susana Suisuiki and Finau Fonua of RNZ Pacific
Last night the Vodafone Events Center in Manukau, Auckland came alive with music, glitz and glamor for the first live Pacific Music Awards in two years.
The annual ceremony has been held online for two years due to covid-19 restrictions.
Fa’anana Jerome Gray has been selected as the recipient of the Manukau Institute of Technology Te Pukenga Lifetime Achievement Award.
Grey’s signature song We are Samoa became the unofficial national anthem and its legacy was celebrated with a tribute performance by Brotherhood Musiq and Resonate.
Gray’s honor came at the end of the night, but first was the Pacific People’s Ministry Special Recognition Award, with the three winners being Ngaire Fuata, Tagata Pasifika and Niu FM-Pacific Media Network.
PMN CEO Don Mann said that since its inception in 2002, Niu FM has nurtured many well-known Pacific media personalities.
“It’s a radio station, it’s a media platform but it’s more than that, it’s a gateway for Pacific people to realize their talent,” he said.
“You look at Sela Alo and Sandra Kailahi who have had time in various media entities, so it’s more than just a place than just media – it’s bigger than that.”
Top of the charts
Just over 30 years ago, Rotuman Ngaire Fuata topped the New Zealand music charts with his reinterpretation of Lulu’s 1967 hit ‘To Sir With Love’..
Today, Fuata has carved out a successful career in television, including producing the flagship Pacific current affairs show. Tagata Pasifika.
Futua said having a career in the music or television industry requires focus and dedication.
“It takes determination, a determination to do a job and do it right and if I say I’m going to do something, I’m pretty committed and motivated to finish the job and that’s really important to me.”
Back on stage – The Pacific Music Awards banish the Covid blues
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East Auckland artist Jarna Parsons, known professionally as Jarna, has been awarded the Phillip Fuemana Award for Most Promising Artist in the Pacific.
Jarna said she was happy to have found the courage to get into music during her teenage years.
“I’ve always loved music – with the family we’ve always done karaoke and that, and I actually didn’t start until after high school – I didn’t think anything about it. But then I thought I might as well give it a try.
“Being different is good”
Samoan metal band Shepherds Reign won the Creative New Zealand Award and band members were shocked when they were announced as the winners.
However, Filivaa James and Oliver Leupolu of Shepherds Reign said that while the majority of Pacific people don’t gravitate towards metal or rock, being different is okay.
“There’s always room to do crazy things that nobody’s done before. I think the most important message is just don’t be afraid – do what you want to do, like we did, even our parents were against us but we still opposed it, so do what you want to do.
The first Arch Angel Independent Artist Award went to lilbubblegum.
The 18-year-old released his debut single “af1” in 2019, and quickly became an online sensation during New Zealand’s first covid lockdown in the fall of 2020.
The viral hitmaker said pursuing his dreams as a new musical artist came at a cost.
“I think the biggest challenge is definitely the big poppy syndrome, especially in New Zealand, because when you do something different people want to put you down. You might not bother them, but they just don’t know – that’s how it is in New Zealand.
“I feel like that’s slowly changing with the new generation, but there are a few people who feel that way and that’s the hardest thing to go through as a new artist.”
Several first-time finalists won their respective categories, including Anthem which was recognized with 531pi Best Pacific Gospel Artist, while Sam V and Lisi received Best Pacific Soul/RnB Artist and Niu FM Best International Pacific Artist respectively. .
Passion the pilot for the rapper
Rapper Lisi, who was born in New Zealand before moving to Australia aged three, said having a music career was never part of his plan.
“My dreams weren’t to be a rapper, but I’ve always loved rapping and I guess that just goes to show that passion takes you far in life – the passion for rapping that I had made me want to to start making music and now I’m reaching heights that I never thought I’d reach. So yeah, it’s huge,” said Lisi – real name Talisi Poasa.
For their work on The Panthers soundtrack, Diggy Dupé, choicevaughan & P. Smith were honored with the MPG/SAE award for best producer.
Fellow artist Kings was nominated for the NZ Music Commission’s Best Pacific Male Artist and received both the NZ On Air Radio Airplay Award and the NZ On Air Streaming Award for his track “Help Me Out” featuring Sons of Zion.
Kingdon Chapple-Wilson, aka Kings, said the awards were an opportunity for him to reconnect with his Maori and Samoan identity.
“I think for us, especially for me, my mum was a single mum, so for her the cultural aspect – she was adopted into a Pakeha family, so it was really hard for us to identify and so those are rewards like these – his events like these help ground someone to ground me to ground me in Pasifika, in Maori in who we are.
Melodownz & Summer Vaha’akolo won the NZ On Air Pacific Music Video award directed by Tom Hern and Timēna Apa, while Kas Futialo received the SunPix Best Pacific Language award for the album. Grandmasta Kas.
Onehunga-based hip-hop team SWIDT won three awards for Flava Best Pacific Group, Base FM & Island Base Best Pacific Hip Hop Artist, and APRA Best Pacific Song for “Kelz Garage.”
Tomorrow People received One Love Best Pacific Roots/Reggae Artist as well as recorded music Te Pukaemi Toa o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa Best Pacific Music Album for their album 21.
Group member Tana Tupai said that throughout the 10 years of its existence, the group has had its fair share of ups and downs.
“Everyone says they don’t make music for the awards, which is true, but like everything, we worked really, really hard. I’m so proud of our team, we’ve sacrificed so much. When I I mentioned the internal struggles before, they were real. We’re just very proud of the music we put out.
Containment challenges overcome
Soul and RnB singer Emily Muli, who won Best Pacific Female Artist for her track ‘Break’, said she did not expect to win the award, despite coming from a strong musical background.
“I come from a Tongan family, I grew up in a Tongan church so it’s not like I have a choice to sing.”
Cook Islands sibling band Samson Squad have won the SunPix People’s Choice Award for Best Pacific Artist.
Tautape Samson said trying to create music during lockdown was a challenge.
“We didn’t expect anything this time around. During covid it was a very difficult time for us to produce new music so with the award, with all of our friends and fans and supporters who are really supporting us despite covid and everything, I guess we’re for the people and with the people, and we just want to thank the people too.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.