This NZBC profile finds singer/songwriter Shona Laing as a 17-year-old in the seventh form (now year 13) at Hutt Valley High, distracted from study by an impending music career. Laing had shot to national prominence with her performances on the Studio One talent show, had a hit with her Henry Fonda-inspired single '1905' and supported American singer Lobo. She is already a guarded interviewee while her school mates are unsure what to make of her success. Lobo is effusive in his praise and there are performances of '1905' and Roberta Flack's 'Killing Me Softly'.
The artists profiled in this edition of the TVNZ Māori show share a heritage and the vicissitudes of life as professional musicians, but their fields and approaches to making music differ markedly. Entertainer Bunny Walters is rebuilding a career that became derailed after initial success with his hit 'Brandy'. Opera singer Richard Haeata is looking to make his way in a largely Pākehā world which he finds alienating in its individuality. And singer-songwriter Mahinārangi Tocker celebrates her gender and Māori identity but has little use for the music industry.
Singer Moana Maniapoto discusses her evolution as a Māori musician in this episode from a series for high school music students. After first singing in public on the marae and learning to harmonise at school, she paid her way through university by singing in nightclubs. She describes her epiphany in a Detroit church as she realised that she needed to sing Māori songs rather than keep trying to emulate American soul and r'n'b divas. An acoustic performance of 'Hine Te Iwaiwa' (from her Toru album) is followed by a demonstration of traditional instruments.
California born, singer songwriter Reb Fountain arrived in NZ by boat with her family aged 11. After playing in bands in Dunedin and Christchurch, she headed overseas where she studied jazz singing in Seattle and lived in New York and London. Now based in Auckland, she released her first solo album Like Water in 2006 and her second, Holster in 2008 (which included 'January's Well' — a preliminary finalist in the 2008 APRA Silver Scrolls). In partnership with director Anton Wood, Fountain has produced a series of distinctive music videos.
Love Soup was a high school duo formed by singer-songwriter Bic Runga and guitarist Kelly Horgan. After coming third in the Smokefree Rockquest, they were picked up by Trevor Reekie’s Pagan Records. This video is about all that is extant from Love Soup, as they were overtaken by Runga’s burgeoning solo career. Shortly to be signed by major label Sony, her debut hit single (and APRA Silver Scroll winner) ‘Drive’ was only months away. Aged just 19, Runga already looks and sounds remarkably assured as she sings about a lost friendship, to a mystical CGI cipher.
Chart-topper 'Brother' is about Smashproof's South Auckland neighbourhood, and how the hip hop trio want it to change — crime and violence are not the only options. It's an urgent message, delivered via a powerful, Tui award-winning drive-by video from music video director Chris Graham. The clip made it into mainstream news media for a scene bluntly inspired by a high profile incident, where a businessman stabbed a young tagger. Singer-songwriter Gin Wigmore features during the chorus. 'Brother' broke local chart records, after spending eleven weeks at number one.
In this episode from a series for secondary school music students, James Reid (from The Feelers) and his brother Donald (a singer-songwriter who has co-written several Feelers songs) recall their school days when music making was frowned on by guidance counsellors rather than encouraged by projects like this one. Armed with acoustic guitars and a piano, they play excerpts from four songs (‘Communicate’, ‘We Raised Hell’, ‘Fishing For Lisa’ and ‘Unleash the Fury’) and discuss their philosophy of songwriting which is “all about being in the moment”.
Kiwi soul sister Emma Paki made her mark with 1993 classic 'System Virtue'. The song earned the Whakatane-born singer-songwriter a hat-trick (Most Promising Female Vocalist, Best Songwriter and Music Video) at the 1994 NZ Music Awards, and also won her a live support slot for American songstress Sheryl Crow. Her award-winning debut album Oxygen of Love (1996) was a long time coming; it also included top five hit 'Greenstone', produced by Neil Finn. Paki began releasing further material in 2004.
'Odyssey' is the second single for Ruby Frost (a musical persona created by Auckland singer-songwriter Jane de Jong). With a wink and nod to the DIY craft aesthetic, director Veronica Crockford-Pound’s video presents West Auckland's Bethells Beach as an alien landscape inhabited by exotic, glitter-faced creatures. Accordingly the subject matter of this electro-pop odyssey is more of the space variety than Homeric; but, for all of the astral imagery, the journey in question is actually about de Jong rediscovering her creativity after difficult times.
From his folk rock exploits with Gramsci to his spartan solo acoustic work, Paul McLaney has a reputation for traversing musical horizons. The British born singer-songwriter started his Kiwi career in 1998 with The Prayer Room. He's gone on to release numerous works under various guises; including 2006's solo effort Edin for which he was nominated Best Male Vocalist at the NZ Music Awards. Anika Moa and SJD are amongst the "talented friends" McLaney has collaborated with.