Niue musician Glen Jackson is performing his new bilingual album to help raise money for his community’s planned hostel in Tupapa.
The launch coincides with the community’s second fundraising event this evening at Avarua’s Staircase bar.
A former Tupapa resident, Jackson worked in Cook Islands as a DJ in 2004 and 2005. He was stoked to hear that a community hall was being planned in his old stomping ground and hoped to be a part of that history.
“It would have been even more significant to be a travelling Niuean into the Cook Islands and knowing there’s a place of belonging for yourself so knowing I can be a part of it now especially for John Tangi (who gifted the land) and the dream that he had to build that hostel.”
First launched last month in Niue, the album Talako is his fifth volume in both the Niuean and English languages, featuring 13 tracks ranging from gospel and RnB to rap and hip-hop.
The body of work and its name, Talako – which translates to dragon – was inspired by a Chinese proverb that speaks of two wolves that reside in every soul.
“How you wake up in the morning and how you feed each wolf, good or bad will define the rest of your day so I’ve taken another flip on it,” says Jackson.
A popular artist amongst the Niuean diaspora Jackson, who also has a background in acting, is most recognised for putting a modern twist to traditional Niuean songs. His most recent success was making the New Zealand top 20 singles chart last year with his hit Valaloto.
The musician says his new album is his most authentic piece of work with the lyrics and melodies all composed by himself.
“My other albums, I used to take old songs and do covers and remakes whereas this is all original so I wanted to put something out that I know I’m not going to get a million followers but at least I know I am authentic to myself and my culture.”
Jackson says he was inspired to continue producing Pacific language music in 2004 when the Samoan rap artist Zipso “changed the music scene” with the hit song Fika Mai Le Pese.
“There was a massive movement so our studio was like ‘Hey, do we go mainstream hip-hop and R’n’B and go and compete against Deceptikonz, Nesian Mystik and everyone else or do we go Pacific hip-hop and RnB?’
“So I said ‘Well listen to the sound, that’s more me. I’m more Pacific Islander to that’,” says Jackson.
More than 300 Niueans are said to reside in the Cook Islands.
Event organiser Sisi Short says they expect around 200 from the community to attend the event that includes a formal dinner with 100 tickets available at $50 a head and a door charge of $10 for the concert.
The community hope to raise $500,000 in total for building expected to begin within the next five to 10 years.