Sunday Samoan: What does the name Lesona mean?
The name “Lesona” is an amalgamation of the three names in the trio – Leata, Sopo and Nanise, but it also has other significance. ‘Le’ in Samoan is ‘the’ and ‘Sona’ has many different meanings. It can mean a beautiful women, happiness or sound, which is fitting as Lesona combines these three things!”
Can you give us share a little background about yourselves and your musical journey?
Sopo shares that her music experience basically started in church and she also spent a lot of her time with her musical uncles and cousins who always encouraged her to sing. She remembers her father taking them as children to watch the yandal sisters at the Aggie Greys hotel when she was about 9 years old and this was where her dream began.
She then sang in a Rock band in Wellington called Bell Shazah for 4 years, and decided to go to University to study a degree in Social Work so that if she doesn’t have any music work she also has another career path to fall back on. She sang in bands in Auckland and is still continuing singing now in Samoa at the 11th Commandment Restaurant and has been singing at the Orator Hotel for over 5 years.
Moving to Samoa was always on Sopo’s agenda as a teenager and its a place she now calls “HOME”. Being able to share her gifts that can help and encourage another person to grow is the most satisfying Job she has here in Samoa.
One of my biggest dreams was to perform with one of my Musical Icons in NZ and that is Betty Anne Monga who is a very good friend and she will be performing at the 11th Commandment Restaurant at the end of April. Watch this space.
Nanise and Sopo have performed in a musical trio before – called the Dreamgirl Divas. They came together with Kelly in 2013 and did several performances around Samoa. Since that time it’s always been a goal to revive this, but it was really about finding the right third person.
Nanise says “when I first heard Leata sing I thought – wow now there is a talent in the making. Then when we got together and had a chat about what music we both love, we had so many crossovers, so I just knew it would work well”. Sopo had also heard and loved Leatas voice from when her family band, Laumua Tumua, peformed there.
Coming together has been a really fun experience, not only as friends but now as a musical trio.
What influences does the group draw from?
From three different musical backgrounds, Lesona have combined their talents to create a night of laid back grooves. When asked what to expect out of the night Nanise explains, “We’re sort of covering all of our musical bases for our first show. Sopo’s a talented guitarist and loves her acoustic songs, so the girls are getting in behind her and doing some nice Samoan numbers. Leata and I both love Soul and R&B so you can expect to hear a range of songs from artists like Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé and even some Bruno Mars to name a few.”
We are really an eclectic group and so not easy to put a genre tag on what we do – however our musical influences range from Soul/Jazz & R&B, to Old School Classics from the 80s and 90s to Rock and some Pop.
How do you guys feel about the debut at the 11th Commandment?
We feel really grateful and happy with the outcome of the show, we do have lots to work on but what we set to achieve was achieved. We wanted it to be a personal intimate type of platform to start small, with our family and close friends, and we really did achieve this. It was a close and intimate setting, but also a really punchy show – we even surprised ourselves because we’d had less than two weeks to practise. We feel happy with our family and close friends that helped us put the show together. So we would like to acknowledge their contribution to our debut. Thanks to Party & Function Hire, Tikeli Taulagi - Sound Production, DJ LX & Kim Satele, New Image Construction, and Nadya for photography,
The 11th Commandment Restaurant has a beautiful outdoor garden setting where you can sit comfortably under the stars and enjoy a great show. The restaurant are planning on developing performances with Lesona, and other established international acts, such as Betty Anne Monga, who will be performing at the end of April. Watch this space!
Sopo says “It’s also great to be bringing another young singer into the fold, as Leata is not new to the music scene in Samoa, but this is a great opportunity to see her talent develop as a singer in her own right. And it also keeps Nanise and I feeling young!!!
She loves helping others and it gives her a big buzz when she sees her ex students doing really well in life. The purpose we all have in life is to know that people are important and that we also need each other to survive. Right now I am managing our family restaurant “The 11th Commandment Restaurant in Vaitele and I am determined to utilize this venue as a platform to build talent in Samoa with any young person who would like to follow suit and that is one of the goals that Lesona would like to achieve as well.
Was it overall positive feedback?
The feedback was really good and yes it was positive, we did receive a lot of constructive criticism that we were really pleased to get – because we now have the chance to improve and better our performance. People loved our acoustic Samoan Set and said they’d like to hear more Samoan songs.
Now that you’ve made your debut, what are the goals set for the group?
At this stage we are interested in working on our own performance as a group and bringing something exciting to Samoa. One of our influences and female groups that many will remember in Samoa are the Yandal Sisters. We love the way they brought a bit of glamour and elegance to the stage, as well as their beautiful harmnoies. Leata and Nanise loved En Vogue in the 90s. There is something really special about a group of women coming together, with the harmonies and the choreography, elegant and in unison that is really exciting to us.
Our goal is to put on a show where you come out and experience a great night of entertainment and look at a local tour around resorts and hopefully internationally.
Sopo has been involved in developing musical talent here in Samoa for years, through her own ventures and it’s been her passion to create a platform for young musicians here in Samoa. So keep your eye on what’s happening at the 11th Commandment Restaurant over the next few months.
Is singing a full time focus or do you guys have other careers outside of singing.
In Samoa it’s difficult to be a full time musician, and we all have other talents and career paths. Coming together is focussing on what we all love, which is singing.
The group concluded the Q&A with a special message for aspiring female singers. “Lesona wishes to encourage other young females to know their strength as a singer and build on that... if you have the talent then use it and create a life with it. You can do it and learn every lesson you can gain from others and then give back. “
Their next show is at the 11th Commandment Restaurant will be on the 1st of April by popular demand so tickets will also be limited. You can purchase tickets from the 11th Commandment Restaurant. The group can be contacted via their Facebook Page: Lesona, Telephone 24118, or email firstname.lastname@example.org