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Live Review: Soul Sistas Of Mataraki, Beau Monga

9 August 2016 | 10:47 am | Sun Mi Clyburn

"It's incredible that a single act could offer so much talent, sass and energy."

This year's Soul Sistas Of Matariki offered up a spellbinding line-up of Aotearoa's best female vocalists: The legendary Betty-Anne Monga (Ardijah), Annie Crummer and Ria Hall, as well as promising young talents Majic Paora, Lee Morunga, Raninikura Waitai-Henare.

The ladies opened the show with a powerful rendition of The Circle Of Life (Lee Morunga performed in The Lion King for a decade) and kept the audience hypnotised with a melting pot of soul, R&B, reggae and waiatas (traditional Maori songs). The set featured singles of the individual vocalists and well-known classics, including a tribute medley for artist who have passed (Prince, David Bowie, Natalie Cole and others).

The ladies' stage presence and performance were flawless. It's incredible that a single act could offer so much talent, sass and energy. Each one of the Soul Sistas was a powerhouse in their own right, but there was no clashing or rivalry. They blended and amplified each other's talent and beauty and created a mesmerising musical mosaic. The graceful and seamless transitions between English and Maori throughout the show, both in speech and song, added a certain magic to the atmosphere.

The supporting act, singer/beatboxer and X-Factor winner, Beau Monga, is a talented and promising artist. However, his electronic beats, while impressive, interrupted the organic energy the Soul Sistas built up on stage over their first set. Other than a clever mash-up of Fever and Feeling Good and a rendition of Roimata (Cook Islands), his choice of repertoire didn't feel cohesive with the rest of the show. Monga opening for the main act or featuring in songs throughout the Sistas' performance would have created a better flow.

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Soul Sistas Of Matariki is a truly wonderful celebration of family, community, Maori culture and heritage, and music that connects people across generations. One of the most moving moments of the show was the encore, where, instead of one person briefly introducing the performers, each Sista sang to the vocalist to her left and right, expressing love and gratitude for their presence and talent. The venue was vibrating with positive energy and the whole experience was truly inspiring for everyone present.