Herald on Sunday
SINGING WITH THE STARS BEFORE THEY WERE POPSTARS
Three Popstars entrants, hoping to make it through to the Top 12 this Wednesday, have already worked with some of the biggest names in music.
Wellingtonian Grace Kelly, 18, opened for country music superstar Blake Shelton in San Jose last year;
Aucklander John-Paul Foliaki, 23, has opened for Grammy award-winning artist Eric Bellinger and Jamaican star Sean Kingston.
The girls from Le Art have performed with Kiwi stars Maisey Rika and Sol3 Mio, who are also among the mentors coming up on the show. Le Art’s Rosetta Lopa, 20; Anastasia Sirila, also 20; and 19-yearold Tiresa Foma’i are all childhood friends from Porirua. The three songbirds met at school eight years ago. “In 2014 when we were only 12 and 13 years old, we had the absolute honour to be one of the opening acts for Maisey Rika’s Matariki Special, right in our hometown at Te Rauparaha Arena. She was also touring with Teeks, who was known as
Te Karehana back then,” Lopa tells Spy. Sirila had been a long-time fan and even though all three girls were so young back then, they knew every single move or note that Rika hit was of importance.
Lopa and Foma’i say the trio were lucky enough to open up alongside Pasifika Beats for Sol3 Mio’s Symphony In The Park, in their hometown’s Jerry Collins Park. They had never seen the park so busy and wished that someday they might get to have that kind of audience too.
Foliaki first started out in music three years ago and knew he wanted to share what he had to offer with a wider audience.
“After releasing a few songs I seemed to get some traction in the community and though I wasn’t all over the radio, a few promoters noticed me and I got some cool opportunities to open for local artists whom I looked up to, and even international artists,” Foliaki says.
“After we performed for Eric Bellinger, he said to me and my dancers, ‘ya’ll were lit!!’ — I almost passed out.”
“He’s worked with my favourite artists — Usher, Beyonce, Rihanna to name a few
— so to have that compliment was crazy,” he says.
Opening for Sean Kingston in Auckland was also an unforgettable moment for Foliaki. The crowd loved his set and it proved to him that if their fans vibed with his music, he must have something to offer.
Songbird Kelly got to play one song before Shelton’s San Jose concert last year.
“It was my first time performing in an arena and it just gave me a taster of exactly what I plan on doing the rest of my life,” Kelly says.
“As soon as I walked out on stage it was like I knew this was where I was meant to be — comforting having that feeling rather than, ‘Oh God, I’ve made a horrible mistake and I can’t do this’.”
Although she didn’t get to meet the country crooner, she says she wants to open for him on a stadium tour one day.