Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bringing out the truth

Bringing out the truth
By Geraldine Panapasa

http://www.fijitimes.com/ - Sunday, February 01, 2009

They performed at the Flood Appeal Concert at Albert Park two weeks ago and have promised to bring the best out of traditional and cultural sounds of Fiji.
The local-based music band Vuku led by talented musician and Fijian chant master Sailasa Cakau (pictured right), is one of many local groups ready to take the world by storm with their fusion of indigenous and modern beats.
As he sat and explained the origins of the group, Sailasa had more than just cultural intuition and pride when talking about the significance of Fijian chants in modern day music.
Quietly sitting beside him was drummer Tevita Sauliga.
The five-member group was formed in 2002 during a yaqona session in Qauia.
Sailasa said the sounds produced from the group are a fusion of traditional Fijian chants and rock beats.
"This is the first time for Fiji to have a group producing a fusion of Fijian chants and rock," said Sailasa, who is also the lead singer, composer, arranger and innovator of Vuku.
"Our drawback is lack of instruments. At the moment, we are using a 12-string guitar and acoustics.
"We have participated at various musical events including the Fiji Music Festival in 2002."
Just like the Irish rock band U2, Vuku is ready to take on the world with their fusion of traditional rhythm and beats, and to share with the world a new genre of music that carries years of Fijian heritage.
Sailasa spent 11 years studying and learning traditional Fijian chants or the I Vola Vivigi Kei Viti (The hidden chronicles of Fiji).
With the help of his father and the elders of Nakorotubu and Nalawa in Ra, Sailasa said the inspiring U2 focused on telling the world about their pain and their cries.
"People are watching Fiji, not only in the political arena but in the kind of music we can come out with," Sailasa said.
"This is the moment for an uprising."
Originally from Tuatua Village on Koro Island, Sailasa says as an indigenous chanter, he had to live off the land to really understand the traditional gist of Fijian chants and heritage.
His ability to understand and relay Fijian chants is like carrying Fiji in the palms of his hands.
The 39-year old said success for the group is when they perform or play.
"It's not about the money but about the knowledge passed down from our elders. It's not about a race," he said.
"I want to bring about a revolution in Fiji through my music. I gave the first track for George Veikoso's Transition album called Na Vatu Kwe, meaning 'this jewel', referring to the people of Fiji.
"Also chants in the Killer album for Black Rose. I just want to empower other musicians that the world of music is a big market.
"And there's even space for our music."
The eldest of eight siblings, Sailasa was born and bred in Suva. His mother, Mere Tora was a trainer for caregivers while his father, Laisiasa Tora is a draftsman or land technician.
His mother introduced him to orchestra and with his passion for music firmly intact Sailasa braved his way through the challenges of the Fiji music industry.
He attended primary school at Delainamasi in Suva and Lautoka Fijian.
Sailasa continued his secondary education at Natabua High. He joined the National Youth Band and was awarded top honours in 1992.
He was awarded the best performer of the year award and most outstanding student of the year.
"I continued my interest in studying western music and traditional chants. I went on to teach music at Natabua High, Suva Grammar School and International Secondary School in Suva, and Koro High School," he said.
"From 1998 to 2007, I was the first musician in residence at the Oceania Centre at the University of the South Pacific.
"I would encourage the people of Fiji especially the cauravou to stand up for truth, for the needy and for the silenced," he said.
"Bring your heritage out. Put more value on your heritage because it's the truth about your past and future."

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