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Pasifika songstress Bella Kalolo thanks Pacific roots for success

Bella Kalolo

Bella Kalolo of Tongan, Samoan and Māori descent is currently enjoying a successful career. Image: Louise Hatton

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Shilo Kino

She was named Best Pacific Artist at the 2012 Pacific Music Awards and calls Glastonbury and City Of London Festival a “highlight”.

Blogger Martyn Pepperell described her as a “mixture of Aretha Franklin/Jill Scott redolent soul (both classical and modern, yet with a Pacific twist)”.

Bella Kalolo, of Samoan, Tongan and Māori descent, has emerged as one of the Pacific’s most thriving musical artists.

However, it was her unique rendition of the number one smash hit Royals at the Silver Scroll Awards that has earned Kalolo recognition from a great many, including Lorde herself.

Lorde tweeted the Pacific songstress the next day, “Thank you for your incredible voice and sass! I loved it”.

“Godfrey De Grut, the musical director for The Silver Scrolls Awards paired me up with beat boxer Philip Van and accordion player Lionel Reekie. It was absolutely a highlight of my career and I felt so honored to have been asked,” Kalolo said.

Grateful for heritage
Kalolo grew up in Christchurch and said her Pacific roots had been a huge foundation for her musically.

“My parents were both musicians and I grew up in the Pacific Island Presbyterian Church so that played a major part of my child hood.

“Music is everywhere within the Samoan and Māori culture so it has affected my music greatly,” she said.

“I also have a huge love of language – I speak Samoan, Spanish and also a bit of Te Reo, so that’s always in my mind when I’m writing too.”

Once Kalolo finished school, she was spotted by Marc Hadlow, singing on Show Case.

Now with more than 10 years experience in the music industry, she has a resume that would be the envy of many artists.

Musical inspiration
Kalolo said there were many talented Māori and Pacific musicians so inspiration was never far off.

“Performing with both Hollie and Aaradhna has been so much fun. I love both those girls and deeply appreciate their talent and passion.

“It does give me a few wee insights as to how other people roll, which allows me to make good decisions when it comes to touring for my own music.”

Kalolo’s EP Time and Space was released on September 27, and she said it was a mixture of “old school Motown and some funky Disco. It’s like a time machine from track to track”.

Kalolo recently finished the last leg of her Time and Space National Tour at The Southern Cross in Wellington.

Shilo Kino is a Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism student at AUT University writing for Pacific Scoop.