16 Sep 2017

Kaupapa driven riddims - Grove Roots live in session

From RNZ Music
All seven members of Grove Roots.

Photo: RNZ

“If Despacito can hit number one I’m sure te reo Māori can do the same,” says Grove Roots’ drummer and songwriter Noel Woods. He founded the seven-piece outfit on a kaupapa of getting waiata Māori heard.

“We’re not so much a band, we’re sort of a community - a waka - a network of musicians,” explains Noel who wants to see te reo Māori normalised to everyone via Grove Roots’ music.

The band have a powerhouse of vocal talent with Amba Holly, Sianne Doherty and Amokura Tahi who are notable in their own right. Last year Amba won the Best Female Solo Artist at the Waiata Music Awards; Sianne captured the hearts of Te Karere viewers earlier this year with a rendition of ‘Haumanu’ and has also accompanied Katchafire onstage. Amokura has the proud claim of teaching te reo Māori Moana actor Jaedyn Randall kapa haka and giving Jaedyn her first solo back at primary school.

Sianne Dougherty - motherhood and chasing the singing dream

The Grove Roots vocalists are backed by Neha Gate (guitar), Duane Te Whetu (bass) and Ihaka Tukupua (keyboards) who provide the comforting and familiar groove to Aotearoa’s taringa - think soulful, RnB basslines with a good smattering of reggae syncopation. Accessibility is what Grove Roots are aiming for.

“I like to keep kupu nice and basic so that hopefully the non-Māori speaking tangata can pick up on it as well.”

It’s a kaupapa the whole band share. They describe Grove Roots as their whānau, it’s a waka that keyboardist Ihaka is “happy and proud to be part of,”

“It’s just refreshing to play te reo Māori music...we want to see it in the Top 40. We want to see it on the charts as much as possible; not just one, not just two we want to see it everywhere, not just in New Zealand, not just in Aotearoa, all around the world.”

Noel gives a tautoko to Ihaka’s sentiment. “It’s about nurturing and working together because at the end of the day we’re on that same journey so hopefully I can share my skills with each and everyone that’s in this roopu and we can row this waka together.”

Grove Roots have been nominated for  Best Songwriter, Best Urban Roots/Reggae, Best Traditional album and Best Song by a Māori Artist in the 2017 Waiata Māori Music Awards which are being held in Heretaunga (Hastings) on Friday 15 September.

Music details

Artist: Grove Roots
Song: Tau Hou Māori, Mo Ake
Composer: Noel Woods
Album: RNZ Recording
Label: RNZ Recording

Artist: Grove Roots
Song: Korerotia
Composer: Matiu Tahi
Album: RNZ Recording
Label: RNZ Recording