Stay In It, which performs at the Manawatū Rounds, has won Smokefreerockquest regional honors twice in a row.
A group of teenagers from Palmerston North pulled off a pair of rare doubles, twice winning the regional rounds of rockquest, while taking home honors in the Tangata Beats competition.
Palmerston North Girls’ High School’s Stay In It quartet have won the chance to reach the national semi-finals of Smokefreerockquest and the final of Tangata Beats, a music competition that has cultural roots in Aotearoa and the Pacific.
The rhythm and blues/gospel group, which also won the Manawatū rockquest rounds in 2021, is made up of sisters Rhema Brown (guitar, saxophone, vocals) and Victoria Brown (horns, drums, vocals), their cousin Roseta Le’ au (keyboards, vocals) and close friend Natasha Vilivili (bass, vocals).
Judge Omega Levine said the girls deserved regional honors. They were great musicians and displayed talented vocal harmonies.
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“Merging their Pacific roots language into song is no easy task – but they’ve intertwined it so perfectly into their songs. I’m excited to see what will bloom for them in this next round.”
The group also won the award for best voice.
Second place in the group category went to Dragon Scales from Kāpiti College, who will also be considered for the semi-final selection.
The top 30 semi-finalists will perform in one of three semi-finals taking place in different locations across the country at the end of August.
Lucid, from Feilding High School, placed third among the groups, while Madeleine Cook, from Awatapu College, was judged best solo/duo and won the songwriters award for her song Nightmare.
Joshua Leamy-King from St Peter’s College was recognized for best electronic performance, and Hot Ice from Awatapu College was considered to have the best song for Hot Ice.
A musicality prize was awarded to Powercut from Ōtaki College.
Rockquest Promotions general manager Matt Ealand said running the program this year was extremely important given how badly the Covid-19 pandemic has affected rangatahi (youth).
“Not just in Smokefreerockquest, but in all of our programs, we see themes of mental health, connecting through social media, and also just Covid in general popping up again and again.”
He said young people with the creative outlet of rockquest were so important, and it was fantastic to see how resilient they could be when given the space to express themselves.
Smokefreerockquest offers national prize packages for bands and solo/duo winners which include $22,000 in Rockshop vouchers, $16,000 NZ On Air recording, video and promo package, photoshoot and branding package from the creative company Imaginary Friends.