Samoa’s ‘king of reggae’ to be buried in Auckland

A highly respected musician dubbed Samoa’s King of Reggae will be buried in Auckland New Zealand tomorrow.

Ma’ilo Ben Vai died in Auckland last week after a battle with cancer.

The singer, composer and music producer was regarded as an institution in the music scene in the early 1990s and known for his take on reggae soul.

His family, friends and fellow musicians paid tribute to him during a family service held at the S.I.S.D.A.C Hall in Mangere last night.

Today, his final service is scheduled at the same venue followed by his burial at his final resting place at the Manukau Memorial Gardens.

Raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Mailo is the son of Reverend Dr. Peniamina Vai who had been a missionary there.

His matai title Ma’ilo had been bestowed on him from his father’s family at Vaiala in Upolu.

One of his good friends, Samoa based soul singer musician Leasiosiofaasisina Lole Usoalii Hickey, says the singer, composer and music producer was always mentoring, and made time for the youth.

“He was a mentor to a lot of people and my comment is to anybody who is talented with music is to use your music to inspire and that really describes Ben, he would help anyone over here.”

She says he had a strong faith and the huge contribution he made to Samoa’s music industry won’t be forgotten.

“So he did a lot of like Pacific reggae but that song, Malu le Afiafi, that is the song that everybody knows [is] him. In Samoa he sings a lot and he’s done a lot of recordings and many Samoans are very familiar with his music but I think he also resonated with the Samoans outside of Samoa.”

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