All about her roots
Album tells life story
International musician Lole Usoali’i-Hickey still calls Porirua home, despite running a successful record label in Samoa.
The Porirua- raised artist is recording her third bilingual album in Wellington. It is expected to be released next year.
She said the album, The Story Teller, was a culmination of 15 years’ work and told the journey of her life.
‘‘I grew up singing and playing Samoan music, so for me that was kind of like a natural love.
‘‘It wasn’t mainstream that kind of music. You could only hear that stuff on the community radios.’’
Usoali’i-Hickey was one of the first Pacific artists to find success in New Zealand’s music industry in the 1990s.
In 1995, she released five singles with Papa Pacific/Warner Music.
She won the Tui Music Award for most promising female vocalist two years later.
But the R& B- style music encouraged by the label was not her passion.
In 2004, she moved to Samoa and set up her own record label, Roots Down, focusing on traditional Samoan music.
Her successes have continued to grow. She won best female artist at the Pacific Island Music Awards in 2008 and best Polynesian female artist worldwide at the first Polynesian Music Awards, in Los Angeles in 2012.
Usoali’i-Hickey is eager to support rising Samoan artists in New Zealand and Samoa, feeling it helps to keep the culture alive.
‘‘A lot of Samoans now, the new generation, some of them can’t even speak Samoan,’’ she said.
‘‘So it’s really important for me that our language and our culture is evident in how we pass it on to our kids.’’
In 2004, she was a founding member of the Pacific Island Music Awards in New Zealand. She also founded the Samoan Music Awards in 2010.
At home: Samoan singer Lole Usoali’i-Hickey outside her family home in Porirua.