Com­mit­ted! Rosie Sa­gaitu

mailife - - Contents - Words by JONE KALOUNIVITI Photo by ANDY PAUL

Work­ing as a mu­si­cian in Fiji is per­haps one of the most chal­leng­ing jobs. First of all, mu­si­cians are not paid their worth and usu­ally work un­der the most ap­palling con­di­tions in terms of con­trac­tual agree­ments. Then they work the night shift, usu­ally at night clubs or ho­tels where they may have to deal with heav­ily in­tox­i­cated peo­ple in an en­vi­ron­ment which most of­ten calls out the demons to play. So you work the nights and are un­der the cov­ers tucked away in your bed­room dur­ing the day while the world moves on out­side. And. It gets harder if you are a young beau­ti­ful woman strug­gling to find a voice in the in­dus­try that you love. An in­dus­try which is of­ten ruled by un­re­lent­ing man­agers who will al­ways take their cut and leave you the rest just to keep you de­pen­dent on them. Most will get propo­si­tioned for sex to get ahead; they are in­tro­duced to the world of booze and par­ties as the hot new voice on the scene. But at the end of the day what they take home is just enough to put food on the ta­ble and noth­ing else. These are the strug­gles faced by per­form­ing mu­si­cians around the coun­try – with the ex­cep­tion of a few who have the ca­pac­ity to de­mand a high rate or work un­der very gen­er­ous peo­ple. Ask any mu­si­cian you meet this week at a pop­u­lar nightspot and there is a strong chance they will tell you that they have also been there and down – this is the dark re­al­ity for per­form­ing mu­si­cians in the coun­try. For 27-year old Rosie Sa­gaitu, who be­gan her ca­reer in 2011 at the Fi­jian Re­sort, fac­ing these ob­sta­cles was the only way to get ahead and re­alise her dream of be­ing a singer. “It’s re­ward­ing in the sense that you get to put a smile on faces or cheer up some­one who has had a bad day with your mu­sic, but it is short lived when the mu­sic stops,’’ Rosie said. “But I have also met so many won­der­ful peo­ple on the way who have helped de­velop me and taken me to places I never dreamt off. “But at the end of the day it is still very tough out there.” Be­ing raised in ob­scu­rity in an is­land par­adise, away from the in­flu­ences of city life on Viti Levu, is per­haps Rosie’s big­gest bless­ing. But when it comes to mu­sic, Rosie Sa­gaitu, knows how to throw her weight around. “I was raised in Ro­tuma, and went through pri­mary and sec­ondary school there. I guess that keeps me rooted, and hav­ing par­ents who are church pas­tors keeps me hum­ble.” Rosie’s story is typ­i­cal of many to­day. What is unique how­ever is how she has clawed her way back from a failed mar­riage to keep her dream alive. “I got mar­ried young at 18 and with my par­ents bless­ings, set off for the United King­dom in 2008 with my hus­band. But life there was not for me, I was so de­pressed be­cause I couldn’t sing and I was young and far from home. “But I have been blessed with a beau­ti­ful daugh­ter, Alma who is now eight and son, Gil­more who is seven years of age.” Rosie re­turned home in 2011. “It was the year my dad passed away, and by that time mum and dad had been work­ing in Nadroga as pas­tors of the Assem­blies of God Church.” “That was the sad­dest day of my life and also most chal­leng­ing, be­cause we had to find a means to sup­port our­selves – and be­ing mar­ried at a young age meant I had not had an op­por­tu­nity for fur­ther stud­ies. My mu­sic was all I had.” She was de­ter­mined to find work so Rosie walked all the way from Nadroumai in Nadroga to the Fi­jian Re­sort for an au­di­tion to be part of he house band. “I am very shy and have con­fi­dence is­sues, but that day I was mo­ti­vated to do some­thing, so I went and tried out and got a place in the band. Rosie has never looked back since that day. From the Fi­jian Re­sort she moved to the Out­rig­ger Re­sort then to Mana is­land in the Ma­manu­cas. By 2013 she was part of the Kul­ture group that looked af­ter en­ter­tain­ment at the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Re­sort and Hol­i­day Inn. “I never had any vo­cal or mu­si­cal train­ing what­so­ever, I am thank­ful though that wher­ever I worked I was guided and de­vel­oped by ex­pe­ri­enced mu­si­cians,’’ Rosie said. She fi­nally got her big break in 2015 when drum­mer Stan­ley Cakau in­vited her to tour with his band to sing in Tu­valu. “From there I got gigs in Samoa and when I re­turned also landed gigs in Savusavu.” Rosie toured the re­gion twice more. To­day, Rosie can be found at Hol­i­day Inn in Suva ev­ery Fri­day and Satur­day from 6pm-9pm and Onyx Night club later on in the even­ing of the same days. She is work­ing on a new sin­gle which she plans to put out this year. “I want to learn more from peo­ple in the in­dus­try, this drives me to al­ways put my­self out there even though I am gen­er­ally shy.”

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