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Musicians ready to celebrate

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, May 22, 2014

LOCAL music in all its glory will be celebrated when the curtains open at the Grand Pacific Hotel on July 26 for the first Fiji Performing Rights Association (FPRA) Music Awards 2014.

After a lapse of fifteen years, local songwriters, composers and musicians will convene at the revamped Grand Old Lady in Suva to acknowledge the efforts of their peers over the past decade and a half.

The night, according to vude king and renowned songwriter, bassist and performer Seru Serevi, will be like no other.

"We are putting together an international show," he said.

"When you talk lights! Camera! Action! That is what the FPRA Awards will be like."

When it was last held as the Vakalutuivoce Awards in 1998, legends that have since passed on such as Tui Ravai, Paul Steven and Vili Tuilaucala were there and they were recognised for their contribution to local music.

The Vakalutuivoce Awards was the pinnacle of the local music industry and many of the greats were recognised for writing, composing, recording and putting out the most memorable tunes, many of which continue to be played and appreciated today.

This time around, the FPRA Music Awards is establishing a Hall of Fame, where living legends and those that have passed on will be recognised.

"We are going to recognise their distinguished contribution to music in Fiji," said vude queen Laisa Vulakoro.

"Some of the legends that will be inducted into the Hall of Fame played a very big part in my own career and in the careers of many artists that have tasted success in the past.

"One very dear to my heart was Waisea Vatuwaqa."

Vulakoro, who has won six accolades so far, scooped the Best Album Award in the 1996 Vakalutuivoce event for Ratu Matakatikati.

"That was the last pop album that Wise recorded because after that he devoted himself to gospel music.

"I recorded my parts with him at Procera Studios then I went to Australia for a couple of performances.

"During that time, Wise put the music together and mixed it into a masterpiece.

"While I was in Australia, he passed away. I still can't get over the fact that he's gone because he was such a big influence and a creative genius.

"The knowledge and experience that he had, combined with his amazing musical skills makes it hard to compare him with anyone in Fiji.

"When I got back to Fiji and heard the finished product, I just broke down and cried.

"All the lines he played on the songs really moved me and I believe it's one of the best recordings he has ever done.

"Listening to the songs today still makes me emotional."

Veteran composer, performer and international award winner Saimone Vuatalevu said legendary composer Percy Bucknell was also someone the industry wanted to honour for his amazing body of musical works which include timeless classics such as Susi.

"He was not much of a talker but when I asked him about his songs, he told me they were all about his travels while he worked as a seaman.

"A classic example of this is Vorovoro Malau Kei Vuo, a song written about the Vanua Levu port and various islands that lay in it.

"While he was famous as a songwriter, not many people were aware why he wrote the songs he did.

"And he is someone that we need to honour and acknowledge because many of his compositions have been recorded by countless artists who are not aware of the origins of those tunes."

The 2014 FPRA Music Awards will provide a platform to recognise outstanding local talent present and past and it will also provide hope to the younger generation who have seen no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of trying to get their music recorded and recognised.

Perhaps the time has come for local music to be given a Fijian crafted label and for music outlets to be given notice that piracy will not be tolerated.

Support local music by purchasing genuine original CDs and by purchasing a ticket to the pinnacle of local music events, the 2014 FPRA Music Awards.

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