Music show

New gospel music show featuring artists from the Pacific

New Zealand is set to resonate this weekend with the sounds of the next generation of music stars.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific / Christine Rovoi

A new gospel music show featuring renowned and emerging artists from the Pacific will air across the country on Sunday.

Soul Sessions aimed to target the diverse audience of Aotearoa in New Zealand.

Launched in Auckland this week, Soul Sessions is a milestone for broadcasters TP +, Rhema Media Network, Pasifika TV and Oriana TV. A local production, the show is also supported by NZ on Air.

Auckland-based Samoan singer-songwriter and guitarist TJ Taotua was on the first episode’s roster of gospel artists.

Taotua has also worked with young musicians and urged them to stay true to their faith despite the challenges of social media and the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said it was important to have a vision to express their religious beliefs through music.

“Although many of our young artists have these gospel roots, a lot of them will slightly settle in this mainstream R&B or soul artist space.

“It takes a strong network of people who believe in these young artists. This Soul Sessions is an exciting time where we see gospel and spiritual music really moving in this mainstream space as well.”

Taotua also urged young musicians to understand the business principles of music, adding that this is an area that has let many artists down.

Often bright lights and fame could turn a lot of young people away, he said, especially with the influence of social media.

“This is the motto for many of our young people.”

Rising gem of gospel, Silika Isaia knows only too well to what extent one can be diverted.

The 19-year-old Samoan juggled her studies at the University of Auckland with her passion for music while living with her parents.

Last year, the family went through a difficult time when her father fell ill and was hospitalized.

Isaia said she started singing when she was four in church because her father was the choirmaster.

“He got me to go to choir practice and it helped me develop my singing.”

Isaia initially said she wasn’t sure about Soul Sessions when approached, but added that upon hearing that it was about exploring gospel music in the Pacific community, she couldn’t hesitate.

Right away, I knew this was my chance to give back to the Lord, she said.

“I consider myself lucky because I have the opportunity to discover the world I am in today, that of English.

“But I also have this color behind me which is my Samoan heritage, so the morality associated with both worlds is what inspires me in my music and in my life.”

Isaia and Taotua performed a single that Isaia wrote about her experience during her father’s illness.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific / Christine Rovoi

Designer Sara-Jane Elika said Soul Sessions was an exploration of the gospel music scene in Aotearoa with a focus on musicians and artists from the Pacific.

Elika said she was excited to be able to highlight the New Zealand gospel landscape and sit in hanuju, talanoa and talk about the stories and identities through this musical genre.

“The award-winning artists are a mix of new and established faces who share a vision to express their faith through music.

“Each session has a final live duet that creates the real magic of the show. We have fun, we laugh, and we create a Soul session. “

For executive producer Ngaire Fuata, it was also a celebration for TP + which has been recognized as a main platform broadcaster.

Fuata said that means they can now choose to support content ideas from independent production houses.

“At SunPix, we are delighted that Soul sessions is the first program ordered by us, and financed by NZ On Air, to be broadcast on our TP + platform.

“Through Sara-Jane’s passion for music, we get a glimpse of what drives our artists and how their faith shines through their music, with moving performances.

“Soul Sessions is complementary to all of the Pacific,” said Fuata.

Rhema Media Network, which runs Shine TV, Life FM, Rhema and Star, the collaboration between broadcast partners is a win-win for all diverse audiences.

Rhema chief executive Andrew Fraser said there was strong growth in the number of New Zealand Pacific viewers on Shine.

“We want to be able to show authentic content that can reach our Pacific community.

“We know that faith is an important part of Pacific culture and supporting a show that reflects this aspect of Pacific culture and supported by eminent Pacific leaders is exciting and we look forward to future partnerships.”

Not only will Soul Sessions be available to our New Zealand audience, but with support from Pasifika TV, will expand its reach in the Pacific region, he said.

Fraser said Rhema was honored and privileged to be a media partner with Soul sessions.

“Our goal is to share more stories from Aotearoa, across the region, that celebrate our Pacific connections, culture and heritage,” said Natasha Meleisea, CEO of PCBL-Pasifika TV.

“This series will undoubtedly show strong cultural values ​​and a strong link in gospel music that will resonate with Pasifika TV broadcasters and viewers in 14 Pacific countries.

“The content produced in New Zealand and the Pacific is ‘gold’ and we congratulate Sara Jane and her team for their vision.”

With the support of several broadcasters, including NZ’s Oriana TV, NZ On Air has made a conscious choice to seek out content that reaches diverse audiences.

Fundraiser Amie Mills said TP +, as the newly established NZ On Air primary platform, has been encouraged to grow its audience with additional partnerships with secondary platforms.

“We think Soul sessions is a shining example of this, with a dissemination of secondary platforms relevant to the kaupapa of their program that will help them reach their audience. “

Soul sessions will be broadcast weekly from tomorrow March 21 [7pm at www.tpplus.co.nz] and would feature Indira Stewart, Marley Sola, TJ Taotua, La Coco, Silika Isaia, Lani Alo, Lifestyle of Worship and the Auckland Gospel Choir.

Silika and her parents Timoteo and Leasi Isaia.

Silika and her parents Timoteo and Leasi Isaia.
Photo: RNZ Pacific / Christine Rovoi