The Rounds’ musical legacy

AT 23 years of age, Abraham Rounds has achieved more than most musicians have in a lifetime.

The Australia-born musician with Fijian roots has landed gigs as resident drummer with two of the world’s biggest music superstars — British singer and multi-Grammy Awards winner, Seal, and American singer, songwriter and bassist, Meshell Ndegeocello.

With Seal, Abraham had performed in numerous concerts and shows, playing in front of hundreds of thousands of screaming fans across the world and millions on prime-time television at events like the Super Bowl 50 Pre-Game event.

Not bad for a young man brought up in the home of a Suva-born and internationally renowned bass guitarist.

Abraham is the son of former Flagstaff resident, Victor Rounds.

It seems as if the Rounds family and music royalty have something in common.

Abraham landing the Seal and Ndegeocello gigs is reminiscent of his father’s musical achievements.

Victor moved to Australia many moons ago and established himself as the premier bass guitarist in the Land Down Under.

He has jammed with the likes of ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John and even the legendary Glenn Frey, founding member of iconic United States rock music group, the Eagles.

Reflecting on the recent passing of Frey, Victor said despite being a music giant he was remarkably humble and easy-going when they met on the set of Late Night Australia, a popular television show in the 80s.

In 1988, Victor was asked to play bass guitar along with Doug Gallacher on drums and Clive Lendrich on guitar with the Eagle’s founder.

The trio accompanied Frey on piano as he performed Desperado — the Eagles’ 1973 hit that was co-written by Frey and drummer Don Henley.

“From memory, it was very smooth and Glenn was very cool about the new arrangement,” Victor shared about the performance.

“We had to re-arrange the song because of time limitations on television and he was OK about it.

“It was so sad to hear of his passing and I count myself as blessed to have had the opportunity to perform with such a wonderful and talented musician, singer and songwriter.”

Not many Fijians can claim to have had so many brushes with famous people.

Sakiusa Bulicokocoko’s drums on Kalapana Way by Big Mountain lead singer Quino in 2000 and Daniel Rae Costello’s collaboration in 2008 with Pussycat Toni Wille, Let The World Sing would probably rate among some of Fiji music’s biggest achievements to date.

And Abraham’s recent achievements with Seal and Ndegeocello are yet further proof that Fijian artistes and musicians have the ability to make it with the best in the business.

When he got the call up to perform with Seal in March last year, those who knew him thought he had landed the gig of a lifetime.

However, his exemplary skills on the drums also caught the attention of another superstar in US rapper and bassist, Meshell Ndegeocello.

Abraham’s most recent performance with Seal was at the Super Bowl 50 Pre-Game Show earlier this month in San Francisco, an event that was broadcast to millions across the US.

His gigs with Ndegeocello will take him to Europe, Africa and around the US next month.

Ndegeocello is renowned as one of the world’s most innovative bass guitarists, an interesting fact given that Abraham is named after another of music’s royalty — renowned jazz bassist, Abraham Laboriel.

Abraham’s quest to be the best in the music business started as a child. As a one-year-old he was fascinated with the drum set in his father’s studio.

His musical acumen was not lost on Victor and Abraham was enrolled at the Newtown High School of Performing Arts where he graduated with distinction in 2009.

He crossed the Pacific Ocean to take up studies at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Chicago and graduated in 2014 with the Alan Dawson Achievement award.

At 23, Abraham has sacrificed a lot to be where he is today.

Notwithstanding the fact that he was exposed to quality music throughout his childhood and was encouraged by his dad, Abraham’s natural skill combined with commitment and a strict practice routine also had a lot to do with his success.

In fact, a lot that Abraham has achieved could be attributed to his upbringing and the accomplishments of his famous father.

Despite being in the cutthroat Australian music business over the past 40 years, Victor is still widely regarded as Australia’s premier bass guitarist.

And although he has a hectic practise and gig schedule, Victor managed to find the time to study and obtained a Masters Degree in Music Production and Composition a few years ago.

This year, he started working at the prestigious Australian Institute of Music as a lecturer and course co-ordinator for songwriting and technical skills.

While many would dwell on their musical escapades as highlights, Victor said his biggest crowning achievements were obtaining his academic credentials and watching his son develop into a musician of international renown.

That being said, few can deny that Victor’s performances over the past four decades have been hailed in Australian music circles as moments in time that will never be forgotten.

From the 70s, Victor’s skills on the bass have caught the attention of Australian music icons and the boy from Flagstaff has performed on too many stages around the globe than he can remember.

He has played and lent his production skills to more than 150 albums, worked on countless television shows, radio and even recorded music for movies.

Victor’s resume captures the diverse range of his music skills — from performances with Tina Arena, Jenny Morris, Marcia Hines, Paulini, Human Nature and Rick Astley.

Some may say that Victor and Abraham’s journey to music success could be traced back to the 1950s and 60s and the impromptu jam sessions that were held at their home in Flagstaff.

Victor’s mother, Bonita, was a multi-instrumentalist and adept in ukulele, guitar, banjo, violin and piano.

It was here that Victor was first exposed to jazz standards and the classics of that era. This music formed the foundation of his first forays into the music world and, no doubt, contributed to Abraham’s first musical endeavours as well.

This writer can still recall watching Abraham’s prowess on the drums during jam sessions with his dad around Sydney in the 90s and early 2000.

Victor’s bass skills were evenly matched by Abraham’s beats on the drums.

Perhaps Ndegeocello best described Abraham in comments she made on his website last year.

“Abe Rounds is a diamond in the rough,” she said.

“He is a superstar living undercover as a student. We are all so happy to have him.”

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