As brilliantly colourful and unpredictable as it always is, there was certain symmetry to the 2017 Pacific Music Awards with chart-toppers Aaradhna and Kings both performing, and each visiting the podium four times during the evening.
Aaradhna (pictured above) picked up four awards including the big one, the Tui for Best Pacific Music Album for ‘Brown Girl’, as well as being judged the Best Pacific Female Artist, Best Pacific Music Video and the Best Pacific Song with the album’s title track.
For his part, relative newcomer Kings (a record breaking #1 stint on the NZ singles chart with Don’t Worry Bout It) took home trophies for Best Pacific Male Artist, Best Pacific Urban Artist, Best Producer (for his own debut ‘Kings’ EP) and the NZ On Air Radio Airplay Award. Both ran out of people to thank, Aaradhna finally choosing to talk about her own musical background and offer some sage words of industry caution to those who may follow: “Always be wary of contracts,” she told the audience. “My advice is; have fun, be wary.”
Staged at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau, Auckland, the entertaining ceremony was launched with a stirring medley of tracks from Disney smash-hit film Moana, recognising the significance of the film for all Pacific cultures and honouring writer/performer Opetaia Foa’i. While the film’s big song, We Know The Way, was beaten out of contention for the Best Pacific Song award by Brown Girl, Foa’i was recognised with the Special Recognition Award for his outstanding work on the film’s soundtrack over three years. Extending the evening’s symmetry, his daughter Olivia Foa’i won the Best Pacific Language Song award for Tulou Tagaloa which was also featured on Moana.
Exciting Niuean newcomer Tommy Nee (‘Colorblind’ EP) grabbed the coveted Phillip Fuemana Award for Most Promising Pacific Artist, promising to deliver on the accolade. Other winners included Annie Grace as Best Pacific Gospel Artist and Hawaiian reggae artist J Boog named Best International Pacific Artist.
It’s very hard to ‘steal the show’ at the super colourful Pacific Music Awards, but one of the evening’s youngest performers achieved it in some style. General Fiyah (Nicholas Pome’e), Three Houses Down‘s version of a young Michael Jackson, proved himself a future superstar with good looks, cheeky humour and exceptional stage confidence. Public voters in the People’s Choice Award category this year selected Three Houses Down featuring General Fiyah (check out their video for reggae single Love & Affection below) and the enduring family band also won the trophy for being Best Pacific Group.
The closing highlight of the night was an outstanding performance from Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, the inspiring Cook Island musician Brother Love, playing his classic Ruketekete Te Mamae aka The Roimata Song.
“The Pasifika Lifetime Achievement goes to Cook Island legend Brother Love whose famous party and club songs have been at the heart of many fond memories and celebrations throughout the Pacific.”