Music from the heart

Left, members of the Via ni Tebara group from left, Sekove Tulele (group manager), Tevita Bulai, Martin Delana, Paula Dabea and Viliame Ratuva at Nakorovou Village in Dreketi, Rewa. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

THE village of Nakorovou, Dreketi in Rewa is home to some of the pioneers of iTaukei music.

The area has produced some of the finest iTaukei musicians and groups in a wide range of genres, including the renowned gospel group Vuniyavu Church Choir and popular music artist Seru Serevi.

Serevi is still regarded as the vude king of Fiji and a group he played a hand in nurturing has emerged in recent years as a musical force to be reckoned with.

Via ni Tebara burst onto the music scene when they scooped the Most Popular Song Award at the Fiji Performing Rights Association (FPRA) 2015 music awards for Rarawa ni yalo oqo.

Their catchy tunes, lively public performances and down to earth attitude caught the attention of iTaukei music fans across the nation.

The band took its name from founding member Viliame Ratuva’s father’s musical group from the ’60s.

Ratuva said the band was named after a very famous band from the village which began composing and performing in the very early 1960s.

He said during that time, groups such as Via ni Tebara used to tune up outside Fiji’s lone radio station at the time, Radio ZJV (now Telecom Fiji) opposite Ratu Sukuna Park and perform live inside the studio.

The leader of the new look Via ni Tebara said the then Via ni Tebara had set a platform for many budding artists and especially newly-established music bands in the village.

Ratuva said the name of the band originated from a root crop called the via which was very popular.

He said it was a type of crop that was similar to dalo which grew well in the Rewa Delta and was known as a food for all seasons.

Ratuva said the via could withstand any kind of natural disaster including floods, droughts and cyclones and it could sustain people for weeks on end, especially during hard times.

Since their genesis in 2011,Via ni Tebara has emerged from anonymity to become one of the most sought-after groups in the country.

Ratuva said the members of the band had changed over the years because some of them had joined other groups and recently two members retired from the group to concentrate on their education.

Via ni Tebara is made up of Viliame Ratuva, Tevita Bulai, Paula Dabea, Martin Delana and Sekove Tulele the group manager.

Their debut album was recorded at Studio 7 in Nakorovou in Rewa.

He said their love for music began at a very early age.

They started off as choir singers before they formed their own contemporary group and composed their own songs.

The group has been everyone’s favourite after they scooped the most popular song award in 2015 during the FPRA Music Awards following the release of their song titled Rarawa ni yalo oqo.

Over the years, the group snatched a number of musical awards and further grew their following.

Singing is something they all loved to do during their spare time.

Ratuva said all his band members were talented and they all had the gift of composition and were very talented song writers.

He said as the leader of the group, he always stressed to his band mates that they must enjoy and love what they did on stage because the crowd would be able to pick up on their vibe and this was something that made the band unique.

Ratuva said the group had recorded four albums to date and recently released a new one.

He said a key element to Via ni Tebara was their faith.

They all acknowledged God as the source of all music and talent.

The 29-year-old also said the elders in the village had contributed immensely to nurturing the young and talented musicians in the village.

Over the years, Via ni Tebara has scooped numerous awards and the group continues to surprise their fans with their innovative live music performances.

Ratuva said the band would continue to make use of the God given talents they
had been blessed with and bring Fiji more of their unique music from the heart.

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