Aotea’s su­per­star bar­ber­shop quar­tet


They har­monised their way to suc­cess when they were at Aotea Col­lege, but where are th­ese Porirua song­birds th­ese days?

Knox­ana Leasi, Olivia Sa­muel, Theadora Esera and Georgina Pe­ni­amina made up The Fource – an un­stop­pable school­girl bar­ber­shop quar­tet.

The group won sev­eral na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, in­clud­ing the Young Women in Har­mony bar­ber­shop con­test in con­sec­u­tive years.

A high­light for them was a trip to Wash­ing­ton to com­pete at the bar­ber­shop har­mony world cham­pi­onship in 2010.

An­other big mo­ment was win­ning the Ris­ing Star un­der-25 in­ter­na­tional bar­ber­shop cham­pi­onship in Hous­ton, Texas, in 2011. Their win­ning songs were My Baby Just Cares For Me and All the Way.

They scored 383 out of a pos­si­ble 400.

They had fin­ished se­cond in the Ris­ing Star event the year be­fore, in Seat­tle.

Leasi, Esera and Pe­ni­amina are now liv­ing in Welling­ton, and Sa­muel now lives in Aus­tralia.

We tracked down Leasi who is study­ing at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity and singing bar­ber­shop with Welling­ton City Cho­rus.

She said singing with the quar­tet was some­thing she missed and hoped to re­unite with the oth­ers soon.

‘‘Bar­ber­shop gave us the op­por­tu­nity to travel over­seas three times and ex­change ex­pe­ri­ences with a lot of young singers,’’ she said.

‘‘When­ever we get the chance to catch up, we laugh and rem­i­nisce about the times we stuffed up on stage, or our trav­el­ling an­tics.

‘‘Al­though we won the bar­ber­shop na­tion­als three times in a row, it wasn’t any­thing eas­ily earned. It was a goal we aimed for since we started to­gether.’’

She said they worked hard and prac­tised al­most ev­ery day lead­ing up to com­pe­ti­tions.

‘‘That’s some­thing we’ll al­ways re­mem­ber and take with us through our life goals.’’

Leasi said the group wouldn’t have made it so far with­out the ‘‘su­per help’’ of their ‘‘mu­si­cal mother’’, Mar­i­lyn Baigent, and the ‘‘mu­si­cal ge­nius’’ of David Brooks, with whom they still keep in touch.

Brooks had fond mem­o­ries of The Fource.

‘‘They en­joyed each other’s com­pany and were great friends,’’ he said. ‘‘They were very re­cep­tive to coach­ing, yet had strong views on what they wanted to do.’’

He said they had a sen­sa­tional nat­u­ral blend.

‘‘They had very good ears for har­mony, depth to the voices which made them stand out, plus the abil­ity to fo­cus well.’’

The Fource bar­ber­shop quar­tet from Aotea Col­lege in 2010. From left, Knox­ana Leasi, Olivia Sa­muel, Theadora Esera and Georgina Pe­ni­amina.

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