New gospel music show to feature Pacific artists
Auckland, NEW ZEALAND — New Zealand is expected to reverberate this weekend with the sounds of the coming generation of musical stars.
A new gospel music show featuring renowned and rising Pacific artists will be broadcast across the country on Sunday.
Soul Sessions aimed to target the diverse audience in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Launched in Auckland this week, Soul Sessions is a milestone achievement for broadcasters TP+, Rhema Media Network, Pasifika TV and Oriana TV. A local production, the show is also supported by NZ on Air.
Auckland-based Samoan singer-songwriter and guitarist TJ Taotua was among the first episode's star studded line-up of gospel artists.
Taotua also worked with young musicians and urged them to stay true to their faith despite the challengers of social media and the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said having a vision of expressing their religious beliefs through music was important.
"Although many of our young artists have that gospel roots, a lot of them will slightly move into that mainstream space R&B or soul artists.
"This requires a strong network of people that believe in these young artists. This Soul Sessions is an exciting time where we are seeing gospel and spiritual music really move in this mainstream space as well."
Taotua also urged young musicians to understand the business principles of music, adding this was one area that had let many artists down.
Often the bright lights and the fame could side-track a lot of young people, he said, particularly with the influence social media.
"That is the currency for a lot of our young people."
Rising gospel gem Silika Isaia knows only too well how side-tracked one can go.
The 19-year-old Samoan was juggling her studies at Auckland University and her passion for music while living with her parents.
Last year, the family went through a rough patch when her father fell ill and was hospitalised.
Isaia said she began singing when she was four in church because her father was the choir leader.
"He got me into going to choir practice and this helped me develop my singing."
Isaia said at first, she was unsure about Soul Sessions when approached but she added when she heard that it was about exploring gospel music in the Pacific community, she could not hesitate.
Straightaway, I knew this was my chance to give back to the lord, she said.
"I consider myself as lucky because I have the opportunity to experience the world that I am in today which the english.
'But I also have that colour behind me which is my Samoan heritage so the morals associated with both worlds are what inspire me in my music and in my life."
Isaia and Taotua performed a single Isaia wrote about her experience during her father's illness.
Creator Sara-Jane Elika said Soul Sessions was an exploration into the gospel music scene in Aotearoa with a focus on Pacific musicians and artists.
Elika said she was excited to be be able to highlight the gospel landscape in New Zealand and sit down to hanuju, talanoa and talk about the stories and identities through this musical genre.
"The award-winning artists are a mix of new and established faces who share the vision of expressing their faith through music.
"Each session has a finale live duet which creates the real magic of the show. We have fun, we laugh, and we create a Soul Session."
For Executive Producer Ngaire Fuata, it was also a celebration for TP+ who has been recognised as a Primary Platform Broadcaster.
Fuata said this meant they could now choose to support pitches of content ideas from independent production houses.
"We at SunPix are thrilled that Soul Sessions is the first show commissioned by us, and funded by NZ On Air, to go on our platform TP+.
"Through Sara-Jane's passion for music, we get an insight into what motivates our artists and how their faith comes through their music, with some stirring performances.
"Soul Sessions is complementary to all the Pacific," Fuata said.
Rhema Media Network, who runs Shine TV, Life FM, Rhema and Star, the collaboration between broadcast partners is a win-win for all diverse audiences.
Rhema's chief executive Andrew Fraser said there is strong growth in NZ's Pacific viewers on Shine.
"We want to be able to show authentic content that can reach our Pacific community.
"We know that faith is an important part of Pacific culture and to support a show that reflects this aspect of Pacific culture and backed by prominent Pacific leaders is exciting and we look forward to future partnerships."
Not only will Soul Sessions be available for our NZ audience, but with the backing of Pasifika TV, will extend its reach into the Pacific region, he said.
Fraser said Rhema was honoured and privileged to be a media partner with Soul Sessions.
"Our aim is to share more stories from Aotearoa, across the region, that celebrate our Pacific links, culture and heritage," said Natasha Meleisea, CEO of PCBL-Pasifika TV.
"This series will undoubtedly show embedded cultural values and a strong connection in gospel music that will resonate with Pasifika TV broadcasters and viewers across 14 Pacific countries.
"New Zealand-Pacific produced content is 'gold' and we applaud Sara Jane and her team for their vision."
With the support of multiple broadcasters including NZ's Oriana TV, NZ On Air made a conscious choice to look for content that reaches diverse audiences.
Head Of Funding, Amie Mills, said TP+ as a newly established NZ On Air Primary Platform has been encouraged to strengthen its audience reach with additional secondary platform partnerships.
"We think Soul Sessions is a brilliant example of this, with a spread of secondary platforms relevant to the kaupapa of their programme that will help it reach its audiences."
Soul Sessions will be broadcast weekly from tomorrow 21 March [7pm at www.tpplus.co.nz] and would feature Indira Stewart, Marley Sola, TJ Taotua, La Coco, Silika Isaia, Lani Alo, Lifestyle of Worship and the Auckland Gospel choir.