BACKTRACKS: Kavoro Lei reflects on Mavi’s struggles

Taniela Mavi (front right) with lead singers from various groups who have united to call themselves the PETASIDREKS. Picture SUPPLIED

Watching iTaukei music videos on YouTube or bands performing live, many get the impression that the life of a musician is one filled with glitz, glamour and fun.

And yes, there are elements of that in the journey of every artist, band, instrumentalist and vocalist.

But those moments can be few and far between.

When the spotlight is turned off on stage and the music video has faded to the credits, the life of most musicians is one of struggles, disappointment, heartache and frustration.

Gigs, in these trying times, are difficult to come by and hungry mouths wait at home to be fed, bills need to be paid and for those who are renting the landlord will always come knocking.

Taniela Mavi knows this story too well.

In fact, the lead singer for Drodrolagi kei Nautosolo was so moved by the dire situation he and his peers were going through that he wrote a song about it.

And the composition titled Kavoro Lei, is a very heartfelt and personal musical tale of the challenges he has personally faced and continues to contend with.

“It’s been 15 years since we last got together to compose songs, so working on this 15th album has been challenging but also a great experience,” Mavi said.

“Working with experienced musicians made the production easier and it didn’t take long for us to compose songs for this album.”

He said Kavoro Lei had been very well received by fans and had been frequently requested on radio.

Mavi said the song not only described the challenges he faced as a musician, but it also spoke about the difficulties many artists had in trying to earn a living from their original works.

“It talks about my life and the music industry and the hardships and challenges we face in trying times.

“Over the past years of composing and singing iTaukei songs, I have seen more challenges as technology becomes more and more advanced.

“People can illegally upload our songs on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube and others can download them and share them from their mobile phones to their friends and family. And while all this is going on, us, the composers and artists are not getting anything out of it.

“It’s tough on composers like us because we put so much time and effort into composing and producing songs and get nothing in return.

“People expect us to keep coming up with original music but they don’t realise that every time they illegally download, copy or share our music, they are stealing from us.

“They are taking away food from our children’s mouths and denying us the ability to live a decent life and keep coming up with new music for them to enjoy.”

Drodrolagi kei Nautosolo was formed in the 1990s in Naboutini, Saqani, Cakaudrove, but put out their first album in 1999.

Mavi said it was encouraging to be assisted with veteran iTaukei artists Sitiveni Lakolako, Navitalai Logaivau and Pita Sorowaqa.

The trio helped put together Nautosolo’s debut album and 15 years later, helped out in the production of Kavoro Lei.

The Vanua Levu group grew up in a village where music and singing was an everyday affair.

Mavi said his father, Ruveni Rasalato, was also a renowned musician and composer.

“Despite all the hardships we have faced, it is encouraging to see so many iTaukei music groups coming out with new music these days.

“It’s a good sign because talents are being exposed and our younger iTaukei youths are getting involved in the industry.

“From the shores of Saqani, Tawake and Udu Point area, we have seen a lot of musicians and groups emerge, including Cakau ni Mana kei Uluinaviriviri and we are encouraged to see more young singers join the industry.

“The competition also brings the best out of us as we think outside the box to be creative with our songs and music.”

A big source of income for music groups are concerts held around the country and internationally, but COVID-19 has dried that up.

“Right now we are feeling the impact of COVID-19 and can’t travel but once travel restrictions are uplifted, then we will start our tours.

“Our families have played a major role in our musical journey and our fans as well, but without God we wouldn’t have made it this far.”

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