*All photos courtesy of and provided by Awa
If you already didn’t know, reggae is immensely popular in New Zealand. The genre was popularized as far back as the 1970s and 1980s by bands such as Herbs and Unity Pacific. In 1979, Bob Marley’s legendary concert, at the country’s Western Springs Stadium, had a tremendous influence on many artists to form their own bands; many believed it was the catalyst for the spread of the genre. Additionally, some of the island’s Maori people gravitated towards the Rastafarian religion that also contributed to the rise of reggae in New Zealand.
Today, one of the most prominent artists to hit the scene is Awa (a former member of the band Nesian Mystik). Now as a solo artist, his signature sound that blends romantic reggae and soulful R&B has captivated New Zealand’s listeners. His debut EP, Native Intel (2011), earned him three Maori Music Awards for Best Maori Songwriter, Best Song and Best Maori Male Artist. Two years later, Awa’s follow up album, Heartbeat (2013), broke the Top 10 New Zealand Album Chart for his hits “Home”, “Perfect Day” (featuring Hawaii’s Anuhea) and “Back In My Life” (featuring New Zealand’s House of Shem). Now in 2014, this double platinum artist continues to pen more hit songs, especially on collaborations with CRSB and Pieter T. Recently, we caught up with Awa to talk about his career, upcoming concert and latest single.