Tom’s love for music

Tom Michael Jiare, right, with his cousin and band member Tony Nafrue work on their recordings in Lautoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Since Tom Michael Jiare landed a job in the tourism industry about 30 years ago, the first thing he fell in love with was music.

He was in his early 20s and being a Rotuman, it was just natural to always be surrounded by happiness, laughter and cheer.

Even though he was a boat engineer, he would always find time to join the band for his love for country songs.

A few years into his career, Tom left for his island home of Rotuma to assist his father on the island.

However, music was running through his veins and he already had made up his mind that he would continue singing while on the island. A year after, he got married to the love of his life, who was also a driving factor in Tom’s love for music.

“But to actually utilise my musical talents and join a band never came to mind that time,” Tom said.

“I always sing with my other cousins and friends during our grog sessions and my love for music just keeps growing stronger. “So, I decided why not start up a band or join a band and make use of this small talent I have?”

A few years after, Tom and a few other cousins formed the band Island Drifters which used to play at some of Suva’s popular nightspots.

But being a father, he had to commit himself to his work as he needed to provide for his family and further his studies as a marine engineer.

It was during this time when he had to work hard for his family — he lost interest in music.

It was only when he moved to the West in 2004, and met up with some musicians, that’s when his love for music was revitalised.

“When I moved to Lautoka, I met up with the late John Kui and the late Victor Carlos and Klode and they inspired me to work on my musical talent again.

“My wife was also a huge supporter and every time I sing or play the guitar at home, she will be listening and telling me what to do. “She died in 2015, and at that time, I just thought of giving up because she was always there to support me and she always wanted me to sing professionally.”

Three years later, Tom is now relishing his dream of actually setting up his own band which is expected to release its new recording soon.

The WBC (Western Band Country Singers) comprises Tom and two other family members. But like any other group, they still need some financial assistance to complete the release of their new album.

Tom said they were yet to record a few songs and also needed cash to buy their audio discs as well as their covers.

“We would like to seek assistance from anyone or from any business body that may be willing to assist us — please do so.”

This new album will feature a Rotuman song, two Fijian songs and seven English songs which are all country related.

Tom also acknowledges his namesake Gagaj Markao, uncle Mariko Kunau and family, Captian Harvey Pranjivan, Father Henry Lewis, his in-laws, families and friends for their support which enabled him to achieve his dream.

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