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Fiji's Pop star Jiosefa Vetaukula

Solomoni Biumaiono
Sunday, October 28, 2012

In the midst of the hum of the air conditioning system and the blaring rag tag sound of a tune being put together by the music arranger at Procera Studio sits Jiosefa Vetaukula, the lead singer of Fiji pop group Mulumu ni Tobu kei Naivaukura.

His career is at its highest point having just won the Best Artist of the Year at this year's Procera Music Awards. Being the only music award around and given by the only organisation currently active in marketing singers and producers here in Fiji. On top of this Procera has the garnered the support of both radio broadcasters in Fiji, giving its artists more air time.

So to speak, Jio is the most popular iTaukei musician in Fiji right now. In a music industry badly affected by piracy Jio's creative genius, sweat and tears has only amounted to a few measly dollars and cents but this has not deterred this Nasau villager from Koro Island from making good of a music career that was spawned while he was still a student at Ratu Kadavulevu School.

It was his RKS background and a song about the school itself that shot Jio to become an overnight musical sensation in an album which was released in 2008 called RKS. This was the result of his passion for music and a whole lot of hard work.

"Music has been part of my life right from when I was a small boy and growing up in my village in Nasau and I as I grew up I carried on from there," Jio says.

Early influences in his music were his cousins the Voqa ni Delai Dokidoki, Nausori based Voqa ni Delai Nakulakula and the Cakaudrove sigidrigi group Drodrolagi kei Nautusolo who were the dominating iTaukei pop music in the last decade.

"In fact I had started a group of my own while I was still in RKS and the only reason that came to an end after we went our own ways after school but I wanted to carry on."

A year after leaving school he joined up with his Dokidoki cousins in 2007 where he had his first taste of what professional singing is all about which drove him to pour more time into it and eventually became a back up to the Dokidoki group and he also started recording at their studio too.

"Then I thought of starting my own band and so I started writing songs until I had 10 songs when I thought I was ready for my first recording. Even my cousins the Dokidoki were behind me all along and encouraged me to take this step," Jio says.

2008 was when RKS was released as a song album with the title track becoming an overnight hit as it was well received by the radio stations and even became a hit in nightclubs and Jio finally realised his dream of making a name in the local music scene.

There was a twist to his debut album as Jio puts it, 'a one man show', for when he did the recording for the RKS album he did all the vocals by himself.

"It was only after the recording that I started going around looking for a band because when I had first started looking for talent I couldn't anyone whom I knew would fit into this group that I had in mind," Jio says.

Again, he turned to his cousins Josaia Qereqeretabua and Lepani Cokanasiga, who by the way had only limited singing experience and for someone who urgently needs a band, it was not a very good decision.

But Jio had other ideas and he had faith and knows that the two vocalists he had chosen to achieve harmony.

"The day I told them, they never believed me but we kept on practising every day until the day we managed to find our harmony.

"And in our first ever act, many couldn't believe they were singing because many knew them and didn't know that they have such beautiful voices," Jio says.

Following their success with the RKS album in 2008, Malumu ni Tobu released another album the following year called Yali Na Dina and the title track also became a hit.

In 2010 their third album Au Sega Ni Kila produced the hit Bula Vakacegu while their 2011 album called Velavela Dina also produced a hit with the same name.

Jio also went on other musical endeavours like in 2010 he released an album called Tauvu Duet where alongside Volasiga kei Viseilele lead vocals Isoa Rokololo. The duo produced a 10-song album which had songs like Dua bulu and Au dau vakananuma.

In February of this year Jio along with sound engineer Waisea Rogoyaco put together a CD of all Malumu ni Tobu hits called Malumu Hits where they also re-mastered some of the songs.

Malumu ni Tobu is planning a fifth album which they hope to release by the end of this year which is titled Sa sevi koso na senikau. It is a 10-song album and will be recorded at Lionz Studio.

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