Today, we are interviewing Sopo Su'a, an upcoming artist. She is based in Auckland, New Zealand, and has recently released her debut single Invisible. She shares the journey behind this wonderful creation with us today.
Please tell us something about yourself.
I am grateful and appreciate life and continue to create an awesome journey living my purpose.
Far from perfect, I'm a Tuvaluan/Samoan joyful soul, always looking for a good laugh. I come from a big family. My father's Samoan and mum is Tuvaluan. I have two teenagers that keep me on my toes. My work involves community development, strategic relationships, local board planning, and supporting community aspirations. I really love working in the Manurewa community.
My life is pretty full. I write songs on all sorts of things, from food to feelings. Anything that I see, hear, feel, and experience, and if it impacts me deeply, I'll write about it. Basically, whatever words come to me I record, then I'll put the music together later. It can take me 20minutes to 20 months to write a song. It depends on what zone I'm in.
These days I spend a lot of time at home, and I really enjoy being at home. It's my happy place with my kids. Interestingly, what we all have in common is that we can all play the guitar, we all sing, and we all enjoy fish n chips and Whittaker's coconut chocolate. Life is great, I appreciate life and continue to create an awesome journey living my purpose.
How did you get into what you do right now? Please tell us more about your journey.
I'd like to think multitasking was one of my strengths. Although I've learned that it's actually better to focus on one thing if you want to complete something well. Hence, I recognize it and try to avoid multitasking. The worse time I'm multitasking is when I'm driving, I'm always doing something else.
My life was all about church. I was a PK (Preachers Kid), and we were always busy. We always had to be good. I wasn't the good one. I rebelled a lot because I felt conflicted between who I had to be versus who I wanted to be.
I had to attend choir, youth group, bible studies, Sunday school, dance practice, skits, and practicing something, fundraising for something. I was always serving cups of tea and making pancakes or Koko alaisa to feed whoever turned up. Thinking back, it was a chaotic lifestyle. We were always on the go!
So my journey has always been on the go that I had to relearn how to enjoy the stillness. Being still was ok. Pausing and taking a deep breath, slowing down, was good for my soul. Music was my therapeutic vehicle to be who I wanted to be. It gave me a voice! I really loved singing rock songs. It helped me to express myself.
The church played a big part in influencing where my life is today. When I look at how things were back then, I'm so grateful my parents sacrificed so much to give us a life that was foreign to them. They migrated from Samoa to NZ in 1970 and struggled to fit in.
In Porirua, there is a growing Pacific population, and I'm so proud to say my parents struggled alongside less than 50 families to build the first Samoan Congregational Christian of Samoa, Porirua. Fast-forward 20years, they struggled with the Ketesemane families to build the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, Ketesemane. This church sits on the best mountain top in Kenepuru. It has the most amazing view. The people in this church were like family. We did so much together. And, we accomplished community aspirations so that our families can learn and develop our language, culture, protocols, communal living as well as building our spirituality having the Bible as our guide.
These families taught me about singing, art, community, events, sustainability, achieving aspirations, and community development. We would debate, struggle together, fight, disagree to agree and agree to disagree, fight for our language, our culture, and we were educated about the Fa'a-Samoa.
We shared food, money, clothes, cars, and we shared ideas and actioned them. We did not rely on Government funding. We fundraised, we collaborated, we consulted, and strategized. We were a strong community, resilient, and socially inclined to serve outside of our church setting. We were a strong team, a collective of families from different villages in Samoa yearning to feel valued. Whoever valued us became an added value to a massive network. My network was made up of 11 churches from Masterton to New Plymouth, and each church ranged from 50 people to 500 people, to name a few.
My parent's golden rule was when we attended school, we spoke English, but it was forbidden when we got home. English was not to be spoken at home. We were punished when we were caught speaking English. As a child, I never understood why, but how grateful I am now that my parents raised us this way.
My father always instilled in me to not be afraid of anyone and not allow anyone to intimidate me. He was a visionary man, he was strategic, and he would foresee what lies ahead. He was a traditionalist. My mother was very intuitive, and she was so giving and always loved to talk. She was a joker and loved a good laugh. She was fearless and headstrong. Although they were always busy with the church. They were our teachers, counselors, prayer warriors, community development strategists, mediators, musicians, and they constantly provided pastoral care for a lot of people.
My journey has been influenced by church life. When I left home to study Social work at Massey University, my worldview evolved. I saw the world from another lens. Maybe it was a more worldly lens?
I'm so grateful that I was raised by so many people. My village in NZ was the Congregation Christian Churches of Samoa, Porirua, Cannons Creek, and Ketesemane. What these people instilled in me has shaped me to be who I am today. I learned politics at a very early age from all these people. My respect for people went from hero to zero one day to zero to hero another. As a child to adolescent to young adult, I was seen not heard.
Please tell us about your single ‘Invisible' and your inspiration behind the Amazing creation!
Who are your role models?
My parents were my first role models. My grandma taught me about letting things go before the sun goes down. Musically, I always tried to sing like Pat Benatar Bon Jovi, and Pink Floyd (Another Brick in the Wall). This song was my rebellious song because some teachers could never say my name correctly so, I resonated with Pink Floyd. Then to challenge myself vocally, I learned Whitney Houston songs which made me appreciate different styles.
I had this awesome basketball coach Hugh Lawrence. He was positive, he taught me self-belief, self-discipline, he cared about saying my name correctly. He physically, mentally, and spiritually challenged me. He always walked his talk.
He became a great role model.
What inspires you?
I get inspired by my excitement from life. Although it has to resonate with my values. I get excited by timeframes and clarity. If I'm clear about aspiration and a timeframe that it needs to be achieved. I get inspired to achieve it, and 99% of the time I achieve it!
What's your most memorable experience?
My most memorable experience was when I wanted to go to Nashville, TN, to learn more about singing. At the time, I didn't have the money, but I went and actioned everything to get there. I got more than I asked for.
That exciting feeling and sense of achievement was such happiness. I went to New York after the vocal program, and there was a moment on a double-decker bus that I felt so happy internally. All alone, in the middle of NYC traveling alone, no family, no friends, a feeling of happiness rushed through me.
What's your greatest fear?
Interestingly I fear God and I've always been fearful of dogs because I've been bitten by Pitbulls twice when skating and as also as an adult trying to save my old flatmate from being attacked. The dog ended attacking me as well. My flatmate ended up having plastic surgery.
Looking back, what's one thing you wish you understood better before you ever got started?
I wish I understood the importance of “TIME” when I was younger.
What are the strategies that helped you become successful in your journey?
The strategies that helped me become successful were continuously getting back up when I failed. It may have taken me a while to get back up, but I got up and strategized to start again and again and again. Yes I’ve failed so many times.
What keeps you going when things get tough?
When things get tough, I think of my heroes my parents, the people that sacrificed their lives to raise me, the people before me that struggled, and we're worse off than I. I think of my daughter and the role model I want to be for her to overcome challenges. Sometimes it's ok to not be ok. And tough times for me have not been ok. But before sunrise I pray and the sunset is a reminder to forgive, and the sunrise is a reminder it's a new day. When I don’t pray, my day is chaos.
Any message for our readers.
I love to inspire others, and I've learned that when you focus on your passion, it's not hard work because it's what you love. When I get excited at that moment, I'm always jumping up and down, clapping my hands. You will know that I'm aligned with me because you will see it, hear it, feel it, and hopefully enjoy it.
How can people connect with you?
People can connect with me through music, social media, email, if you're in NZ, let's go make music, have a coffee collaborate. I'm into that.
Thank you so much for your time! It was a pleasure to have this conversation with you!
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