The WhatItDo has been providing exclusive interviews on some of the hottest Polynesian men and women in the music business right now. We caught up with R&B/Reggae singer Neti Taumoepeau a.k.a Miss 676! Showing that it is possible to create mainstream music while staying true to your roots, this Tongan beauty from Utah shares experiences from her musical journey so far and what to expect from her new album.
TWID: What role did music play in your life growing up?
NT: Music was definitely a part of my life; my mother was always singing, my father played the guitar, and my older siblings were into music too. When I was five years old, my older brothers and sister made a band with a few of their friends from church and school. The band played R&B, Soul, and mainstream Pop music. I was always there watching them practice and perform so that’s where I got exposed to those genres. I grew up listening to that kind of music even before Reggae.
TWID: How were the first few years in the music industry and the musical process?
NT: After high school, I joined the group Small Axe and that was my first time ever recording music. It wasn’t until 2005 that I really started doing my own thing. I always wrote poems in high school but it wasn’t until 2005 that I finally put my poems into songs.
The first album, “Moving On”, definitely connected to our generation here in the states. I wrote all twelve songs that were on the album. It was a great experience because I learned the basics [recording process, music industry]. I took a break and then came back in 2008 with my Tongan album.
TWID: How did this Tongan album come to be?
NT: The idea to do a Tongan album came from various events that were going on in Tonga at the time. I wanted to give back to my culture, my heritage. I sat down and talked with my sister Lavinia and with ‘Anapesi Ka’ili about how I was going to go about doing that. So I decided that 100% of the proceeds from my Tongan album would go to the Tonga Red Cross Society. I wanted to keep this album very traditional and true to the original compositions. I learned to appreciate the Tongan music just for its rawness and the harmonies.
TWID: What are your goals for this new album and what can we expect?
TWID: What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned thus far?
NT: I’ve had to learn who I am as an artist, knowing what I’m capable of, and being okay with the things that I can’t change. As a singer, I’m a contralto – my voice is lower. I’m not a soprano. There are things that a soprano can sing that I can’t sing. Overall, I can’t regret it. Just move along. I have come to recognize my strengths and build upon them.
What wise words from such a strong Polynesian woman! Neti’s voice and sound is her own with its smooth yet rich tones. We can’t wait for this new album, which is anticipated to release by the end of this summer. Until then, check out her first two albums on iTunes and CD Baby and get the latest news and updates on her Facebook page.
Article Written By: Pesi Kava
**Photos and music courtesy of Neti Taumoepeau