From a Samoan Christian youth choir to Pacific urban artists making waves in New Zealand, this will be the 30th anniversary celebrating Pacific excellence in music.
A familiar name at the Pacific Music Awards, the singer song-writer and guitarist TJ Taotua, has returned as a finalist for the Auckland Council best Pacific gospel artist award.
He won this category in 2016, and has also been named best Pacific male artist in 2015.
Taotua is aiming to get his music, in particular his gospel tracks, onto mainstream radio.
“You know I grew up in church and played in church, but always felt quite confined. People always restricting you to the church religion.
“You know that’s why I felt, well, if groups like Mary Mary could sort of put out hits where it becomes big in mainstream, for me it’s just another opportunity to share my story and share the music that I particularly sort of enjoy.”
Taotua has been singing for more than 15 years in a number of genres, with gospel and RnB soul and jazz fusion his main fields.
He says he is now working on a new album that focuses more on his RnB soul side.
“I’m currently working on an RnB soul album with a young producer named Aaron Strickland, so it’s really interesting to be working with young producers because I’m still sort of old school, but they sort of bring a new school vibe to the sound without sort of deviating away too much you know with what people know me for.”
Also back again for not only the annual Pacific Music Awards, but the Virgin Australia Best Pacific Female Artist Award, is La Coco.
The solo recording artist and songwriter is also a teacher at the Auckland Seven Day Adventist High School.
La Coco says for the event to be running for 30 years shows the importance of Pacific music in this country.
“I’ve just brought my students from ASDAH, Adventist High School, in as well to have a look at it and open it up like I said, you want these events to keep going for Pacific Islanders and Pacific musicians and they’re the future.”
As always, the future of Pacific music is on show at the Pacific Music Awards.
A new group, making their first appearance at the event - the EFKS Te Atatu Junior Youth – have been nominated for three awards this year.
After releasing their debut album Fa’afetai le Atua last year, they are finalists for best Pacific language, best Pacific gospel artist and best Pacific music album categories.
Metitilani Alo from the choir says the album was released to coincide with their 40th year celebration of their congregational Christian church of Samoa.
“It really was just a way of bringing together over 30 years of music that we’ve kind of put together in church and we’re feeling really blessed and I think I speak for all of us that we’re just a bit overwhelmed at the moment, but yeah we’re just grateful to be here.”
New Zealand-born Tongan neo-soul singer Noah Slee leads the 25 finalists who are set to be honoured at the Pacific Music Awards ceremony in May.
Noah Slee is up for four awards off the back of his debut album called Otherland.
The annual Pacific Music Awards event celebrates Pacific music and Pacific artists – providing the opportunity to honour the achievements and success of current Pacific artists and also pay tribute to legacy and developing artists.