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FASHION |

- By REIJELI ROBANAKADA­VU

Singing from the Heart

It is a love acquired at a very young age while singing in the kitchen or helping with other household chores. Now it is part of everyday life in the United Kingdom for this aspiring artist with roots in Vagadaci village, Levuka. The 15 year old UK born diva Mary Wise, daughter of a Fijian soldier formerly serving in the UK, caused ripples at the London Pacific Fashion Show at Australia House in London earlier this month with her song “My Island Home”.She took the stage by storm with the mesmerisin­g number originally sung by Australian vocalist Christine Anu. Before the show Wise said it had been a hard few weeks of practice to perfect her performanc­e, working with her mentor Tomasi Kanailagi, the UK Fijian Methodist Fellowship choir master. “I learned a great deal from Mr Kanailagi, who has been very instrument­al in me doing vocal exercises that helped me with my voice tone and techniques and to reach the octaves” she said. She prepared well and felt it was a great honour to be invited to perform the opening number at the show. Wise said it was an emotional moment to have her mother, her greatest supporter, at the show to see her. “I am a Year 10 student at Melksham Oak Community College and major in Music. I would like to pursue a career in singing,” she said. Wise dedicated her performanc­e to her Nenna Ana in Tuvalu, granddad Apenisa Nodrayaca in Nadi and her namesake and Nenna Mary Wise in Suva. “I would like to inspire all Pacific youths in the UK to never give up on their dreams and grab every opportunit­y handed to you no matter how small it may be “she said Mother Timaima Wise said her daughter had always shown a singing talent since she started Primary school near the military camp at Larkhill in Wiltshire. “She was a lead character in the school production of the musical ‘Robin Hood’. When she went to Avon College last year, she was chosen to play Annie, a leading role in the musical ‘Annie’ alongside her brother Joel, who shared the role as Mr Warbucks,” she said. This year her daughter was the star at the school concert when she sang Adele’s hit song “Hello”. She was continuing to nurture her talent by being part of the Tidworth Fijian Methodist Fellowship Sunday school choir and performing every year at the church’s annual conference in the UK. “It was a platform for her to learn tonic sol-fa while being in the choir and getting more confidence in performing, especially during the annual choir competitio­n when there are hundreds of members from around the country attending,” Mrs Wise said.“It boosted her morale and support from the family, family friends and the school has helped her reach where she is now, but this is only the beginning of her journey.” Choir master Kanailagi said preparatio­n started six weeks before the fashion show to hone the natural talent that Mary had. “There is a wealth of raw singing talent within the Fijian youth in the UK, as seen during the annual Methodist choir competitio­n, because the children are taught from Sunday school level to sing. “They also have a good network of support from the parents and the church community to help invest in the young talent.”

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