Fijian choir goes ‘over the rainbow’
Thu, 24 Jan 2013 3:19p.m.
By Kim Choe
In a small Fijian village just outside Nadi, a church choir was hearing one of the world’s most recognisable songs for the first time. Less than a day later, they would tackle their own arrangement of it – with stunning results.
The project was dreamed up by Nick Dwyer and Dick Johnson – two New Zealand DJs with a love of exotic music from around the globe.
After DJing at a George FM party in Fiji and never leaving the resort, they were inspired to return and explore further.
Dwyer was especially drawn back because his family lived there in the early 1970s before he was born, but he had never visited himself.
“It was this weird thing where I’d spent the last 10, 15 years travelling all over the world and yet I really haven’t explored what’s in my backyard,” he says.
“[But] just three hours away lies this incredible, unique culture.”
Dwyer was surprised to learn the Nawaka Village Methodist Choir had never heard ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, originally performed by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.
He says Fijians are in tune with new music thanks to the availability of mobile technology, but aren’t very familiar with older western tunes.
“They’ve had their own rich music and cultural heritage so that Pacific Island music has been what’s dominated over the years. In terms of old music there doesn’t seem to be the lust like we have in the western world to hunt it out.”
After listening to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of the song, the Methodist choir’s director wrote his own arrangement for the group to record the next day.
“It’s a testament to their ability that they just wrote and belted out this incredible rendition in less than a day,” says Dwyer.
He says the choir enjoyed the challenge.
“Pretty much 100 percent of songs in their repertoire are what they sing in church… They really enjoyed working on a new project and found the whole recording and music video shooting project really interesting.”
Dwyer hopes their rendition will remind people that they don’t have to go to the other side of the world to find musical talent.
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