After studying music performance together at EIT, Sunday Tonihi and Zaire Courtney are gearing up to take on the world.
From Flaxmere and of Ngati Kahungunu, Tuhoe and Ngati Ruapani descent, the father and daughter have formulated a plan. Seeing a brilliant future for Zaire’s song writing and singing talents, Sunday wants to build a band around the 17-year-old while he takes on the role of promoter-manager.
“My goal is to have my music heard everywhere,” the softly-spoken Zaire confirms. And yes, by that she does mean “everywhere in the world”.
Tom Pierard, lecturer on EIT’s Certificate of Contemporary Music Performance and a well-known musician in his own right, anticipates the pair will do really well.
“Zaire definitely has the right stuff,” he says. “Anyone who has seen her perform will say there is something special there. She has a great voice and is also strong with writing her own songs. It’s really interesting material.”
Tom says any teenager launching into a career in music can only benefit from experience and strong management.
“Sunday is a songwriter too, and he showed here that he was able to direct band members, booking rehearsals and recording times.”
The decision for the two to study together was Sunday’s idea.
A year ago, he had nothing lined up and Zaire was about to finish school when he heard EIT was writing a music programme.
“I thought we could do it together, have some fun and that would benefit us both, but my motivation was mainly to support Zaire.”
When she was younger, Zaire would only sing in her room, says Sunday, who has played in a reggae band performing mostly original tracks at gigs “here and there”. At age 11, she entered a talent competition organised by the Bay City Outreach Centre in Omahu Road.
“Although she didn’t win the Superstar contest, even well-known singers came up to tell me that she could go a long way with her singing.”
So when her proud father heard about the year-long EIT certificate programme, he suggested they do it together and have some fun – “and it has been awesome fun”.
The pair formed part of a diverse cohort of students exploring a wide range of musical genres. Based on auditions, they were grouped into bands to learn theory, practise, rehearse and perform.
“We all learned Level 4 theory,” Sunday says. “We were given an instrument to play. Zaire’s done singing, I played guitar. It’s taken us out of our comfort zone playing and writing songs for the different genres.”
Zaire has written the music and lyrics for eleven songs recorded onto an EP that Sunday is promoting.
“I prefer not be labelled for my singing,” she says when asked about her musical style. “Music as an art is more than a genre and I’m prepared to take the risk on that.”
Sunday says the EIT programme has helped build his daughter’s confidence – “she knows she is talented and that she has everything to gain.”
EIT’s ideaschool will be holding auditions for next year’s Certificate of Contemporary Music Performance intake on Wednesday, 16 January.