HIP HOP ARTIST RETURNS TO DEVASTATED FAMILY,

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SAMOA
New Zealand based artists hold fund raising concert

By Mata’afa Keni Lesa

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Oct. 28, 2009) - Star-studded: Scribe, Savage and Brother D are among the stars who have arrived.

Tragic stories from the tsunami are aplenty but Savage’s one is heartbreaking.

It’s understandable therefore why one of Samoa’s most famous hip-hop sons, real name Demetrius Savelio, was near to tears talking about the devastation.

Hailing from Lalomanu, Aleipata, Savage arrived yesterday with a star-studded crew from Dawn Raids Entertainment, which include Scribe, Mareko, Alphrisk and Brother D.

The group will be joined by the Yandall Sisters, Lapi Mariner, Adeaze for the "I love the islands" concert.

To be held at Tuanaimato Sports Complex, the concert is to raise funds for tsunami victims.

The 29 September disaster killed 143 people. Some 27 of them are relatives of the famous Samoan.

The man from the Fasi’i family of Lalomanu told the Samoa Observer of his connections with the Taufua family which lost 13 members. On his grandmother’s side at Ulutogia, Savage said he was told 14 members were killed.

What’s more, Savage’s relatives at Poutasi lost their houses.

"All that put it in a nutshell is hard to swallow," said Savage. "It’s really personal for me."

The memories of pristine sandy beaches and breathtaking views of the south coast are still fresh in Savage’s mind. He was here at the beginning of the year to film a music video with the idea to promote Samoa to millions around the world.

It was his contribution to help the islands he loves so much.

"My single ‘I love the islands’ was like the last raw footage of what the beach was like," he said.

"It’s a video clip I take a lot of pride in. To now see it on TV gives you a bit of sorrow and sadness because you know now what we were standing on back then is all gone.

"It’s hard for us Samoans in New Zealand because we’re so far away watching the news in the comfort of our homes to see the devastation of our families and villages. It was important for us to come back here."

Getting the group together and coming back was not hard, he said.

"I came and saw Brother D and Andy (Murnane) and Scribe came and we just all put our hands together, Dawn Raid, Ollie Maiava, Pacific Music Trust and also Scribe’s manager, Theresa Paterson.

"To organize a tour of this caliber takes months to do but to get it all done in two weeks was a lot of hard work but we were all there doing it. Instead of performing separately, me and Scribe performed together, as a group. It’s all about unity and strength."

Savage arrived yesterday with a star-studded crew from Dawn Raids Entertainment, which include Scribe, Mareko, Alphrisk and Brother D.

And its unity and strength Savage wants Samoans to have plenty of.

"What doesn’t break you will encourage you to do great things like what we have achieved so far. In two weeks, that is the shortest time I have ever seen any tour organized," he said.

Scribe, whose real name is Malo Luafutu, said no one in the touring party is paid.

"From the security, to the caterers, to the performers, no one got paid," Scribe said.

"Air New Zealand paid for all the flights in New Zealand and Pacific Blue brought us here. We’re very grateful."

In New Zealand, the group collected thousands by performing in five regions, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, New Plymouth and Wellington. The concert on Saturday is dubbed ‘The One’ as it will be the biggest.

Among the performers in New Zealand were a host of Kiwi music legends such as Tom and Tim Finn, Dave Dobyn, Big Runga to name a few.

"Tim Finn and Dave Dobyn have all been to Samoa, stayed at Sinalei (Reef Resort) and Lalomanu, so they feel a personal connection as well," said Scribe.

"For them to offer their services for free - those guys charge hundreds of thousands (to perform) - we can never afford to give them but they felt compassionate enough to feel a connection to Samoa. All New Zealanders do. You just have to look at the All Blacks; they’re seventy per cent Samoan so every New Zealander is connected to Samoa in some way. And we have a good community of Samoans back there who are doing good things. That’s just a reflection on the motherland."

Although none of his relatives at Falealili died, Scribe’s connections with the Annandales saddened him.

"Tui, Joe Annandale’s wife and the first Miss Samoa, was very close to me," he said.

"She’s one of my favorite people in Poutasi to be honest and Joe, they’re very good people. I was very sad when I was told about Tui’s death.

"Personally, I really can’t explain the magnitude of the hurt. When I first heard about the disaster my first instinct was I just wanted to come here straight away.

"But realizing that that will be futile for me to do, I managed to sit down with Brother D and Savage and talk about putting on this concert, this vision that we had to raise money."

Scribe’s family is from Poutasi, one of the worst hit villages. Eight people were killed there.

"My granddad is buried there and I want to be buried there one day," he said. "I was quite lucky that none of my family members died because they live by the road but Savage lost members of his family and he’s like my brother. So if it affects one Samoan, it affects us all."

Dawn Raid Entertainment is like one big family, founder Brother D, real name Danny Leaosavai’i, said.

"From Dawn Raid’s perspective, we’d just been here like two or three months earlier filming Savage’s video I love the islands," he told the Samoa Observer.

"We got some amazing footage and a lot of that was along Lalomanu and the around the coastal areas so we thought we needed to do something to raise some funds.

"This is where we’re from and the boys are looked upon as superstars and we wanted to raise some funds so they’ll have something to bring back.

"It’s about performers and entertainers coming together, wanting to lend a hand the best way we know how.

"Not one individual could come up with a certain amount of money to give so the efforts were combined through their talents. Everybody just donated their time, equipment, and the venue, Vector Arena (in Auckland) which is WST50,000 [US$21,000] just to hire, they waived everything. Some of the real high caliber artists in NZ, some of the likes of Neil and Tim Finn, Dave Dobyn, the Big Runga, they all felt the same way."

The support from New Zealanders was overwhelming, he said.

"It’s not just the Samoans that are affected; the ‘palagis’ [whites] are feeling it too," he said. "I’ve never seen anything like it before. You see that in the concerts, even when we’re traveling in the airplane. We had a 50-year-old white woman come up to us and say it’s a great thing what you guys are doing and I’m very sad for your loss."

Saturday’s concert is about paying tribute to loved ones who were part of that loss. Free tickets and transportation for the concert will be made available for people from the worst hit areas.

After the concert, the proceeds from all the concerts in New Zealand and Samoa will be presented to tsunami victims.

Brother D said he was not sure how much money they’ve raised.

"Not at this time because our last concert was on Monday night so the accountant for Pacific Music Trust is having a nightmare because there are five different regions.

"Come Saturday, we’ll have a fair idea, an estimate. That is what we’re going to present."

Brother D said so many people have come together for the tour to happen.

"Everyone has come together to help. Even business competitors, they’ve put their businesses aside for this cause. We are truly humbled and we hope the people of Samoa, especially the victims, get the help they need."

He added, "We’re just normal human beings like everybody else. The one special thing we have is that we’re good in what we do. We’re just utilizing what we have as artists and musicians and people to try to give back to our people."

And giving back is what the effort is all about, said Digicel Chief Executive Officer, Pepe Christian Fruean.

"From Digicel and our family of sponsors, Polynesian Blue, Aggie Grey’s Hotel, Apia Rentals and Samoa Sports Facilities, when it comes to events of national significance, it’s an honor to be associated with something so important," he said.

"Samoa will look back at this concert, sons and daughters of Samoa, coming back to give back to their people. It’s something we’re all very proud to be associated with.

"The tsunami took lives, it took people’s homes, but one thing it could never break is hope and I think this concert is a tribute to that. It shows that the fighting spirit of Samoans can never be broken and this is what the concert means."

Tickets are on sale in front of the Government building for WST10 [US$4]. The concert starts at 6 p.m.

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