Musicians hit hard by COVID-19

Veteran musician Seru Serevi describes COVID-19 as “the biggest crisis to have ever hit our shores”. Picture: FT FILE

The musicians who entertain us, boost our spirits, make us dance and even bring us to tears are crying right now. COVID-19 has hit them hard.

Many are wondering where their family’s next meal is going to come from.

They are worried about how they will pay their rent and with no gigs and income, they fear their water could be turned off at any time because they can’t pay the bill.

When tourists stopped coming to our shores, they were the first to be let go.

Overnight, numerous musicians and entertainers lost their gigs and went home.

And unlike resort workers who had Fiji National Provident Fund to fall back on, many went back to empty cupboards and fridges and to spouses and kids who did not understand what was happening.

Musicians in the Capital City had it good for a while until COVID-19 forced the closure of nightclubs and social distancing in restaurants meant owners could not justify paying a musician or band to perform with only a handful of clientele allowed inside.

Veteran musician Seru Serevi described COVID-19 as “the biggest crisis to have ever hit our shores”.

“I thought 1987 was bad and 2000 was bad but I can tell you with all confidence we have never been through anything like this and I pray to God it ends soon,” he said.

“We were the first people to be sent home, I don’t think a lot of people realise that.

“As soon as tourists stopped coming and those were here got out, they sent all the entertainers and musicians home.

“And I really feel for the musicians who live in the urban centres because all of them are renting, they all have bills to pay and mouths to feed and they don’t have any income.

“I have been a musician all my life and I know how we live. “We live a day-to-day existence.

“We gig, wait for the money and pay, no matter how much it is, will decide what the family will eat that day.

“Most musicians do not have savings and when Government announced workers could access FNPF, it does not help most of them because they do not have accounts.”

Serevi lives in Nakorovou, Rewa, and said he did not regret a decision made more than a decade ago to move back to his village.
“I made the decision to return to the village 12 years ago and I am blessed because I have a plantation, a small chicken farm and tilapia pond.

And this is something I have always shared with my fellow musicians – to always ensure they had a little teitei, something to fall back on during the hard times.

“I just hope and pray they are coping somehow because I do not see this virus issue being resolved soon and even if it is resolved, it will take some time before tourists come back to Fiji.

“Once that happens then we will slowly get our gigs back but, in the meantime, I would encourage all Fijians and musicians to plant food like bele, tavioka and kumala.

“If you can survive for the next few months until the plants grow, you will be able to survive until things normalise.”

His advice to musicians at home was to practise and share the talent they have been blessed with.

“Plant around your home, whatever space you have, utilise it because food security is very important.

“I also urge you all to use this time to practise and to put pen to paper and write about what you are going through.

“This is a unique opportunity to pour your heart out. “If you are able to, play some music and put it out on social media.

“Fijians need encouragement and healing right now, so use your God-given talent to brighten people’s lives and to lift their spirits.

“And I urge all Fijians to please follow the advisories given by the Ministry of Health about social distancing and washing hands and follow Government’s restrictions when it comes to social gathering and to stop all unnecessary movement.

“We can get through this if we all work together.”

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