Twelve year old Makarita Tusola and her father, Leone Ranuve, from Taveuni, Fiji, have just arrived home after spending three weeks in Australia where they attended the Denmark Festival of Voice, a weekend singing and music workshop with artists from around the world.
Makarita and Leone appeared as the opening performance at the 10th Denmark Festival of Voice. “She and Leone were just lovely. Makarita worked the Opening Concert audience like a professional. Beautiful to see them hold their own against artists of great skill and experience in a world class lineup. I think they won everyone’s hearts and were a fantastic addition to the Festival lineup.” says Josie Mitchell, Director of Denmark Festival of Voice.
Makarita performed as if she had been on stage for years, and had the whole audience singing along with her in Fijian. They received a standing ovation and were invited back on stage to perform another song. She wore a traditional Taveuni design masi made by her aunty and the ladies of Naselesele village on Taveuni.
Recognised as talented local performers at the inaugural Tagimoucia Festival in August 2013 by music producer Peter Keelan from Australia, the duo travelled to the Denmark Festival of Voice with environmental artist Cecile Williams.
“They were loved by all where-ever they went. After playing their first song, many people gave them a standing ovation. She invited the audience to join in with them and soon had 400 people all singing along. It was special. It made some people well up in tears!”Said music producer and Project Sponsor, Peter Keelan of their visit.
While they were in Australia they performed at schools in WA as a collaborative project with cross-cultural learning, sharing positive stories of their lives in Fiji. Other performers at the festival include Archie Roach, indigenous Australian folk singing idol.
“We all sang a song in Italian and Makarita picked it up really quickly,” said Leone of his daughter. “‘Taveuni’, the song, touches hearts with the beauty it conveys of this special island – “The island of my dreams….with mystical powers….where the Tagimoucia grows wild….where the waterfalls cascade to the sea…..walking on the sand… feels just likeheaven….” To quote a few of the lines in the song.”
The Tagimoucia Festival on Taveuni – Our Island, Our Future – touched a chord with Leone who has a great passion to share his love of Taveuni with others through music. When posters for the festival went up in July 2013 advertising the event featuring well known artists such as Tom Mawi, with Steve McComber, Dakei, Alexia Rae Costello and Bex Nabouta, Leone wanted to share a much-loved song sung in his family for many years.
Makarita was provided with a scholarship to participate and Peter and Cecile’s friends and family in Australia sponsored Makarita and Leone’s visit to Denmark, Australia. They were also supported by Taveuni community, church and local resorts. Taveuni Empowerment of Women Support Group (TEWSG) provided a small grant through fundraising in conjunction with local schools.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for a young girl with such talent”, said Taveuni Empowerment of Women Support Group (TEWSG) secretary, Lena Mataitoga.