Reggae has always been the heart of One Foundation, the family Reggae band that hails from Los Angeles, CA, and seventeen years later, they’re still goin’ strong. With One Foundation headlining the much anticipated Pioneer Reggae Bash tomorrow in Salt Lake City, UT, the WhatItDo caught up with original band members Popo and Kalisi Moala-Liava’a to see what the band has been up to and what we, their fans, can look forward to. One Foundation is lookin’ to win over Reggae music lovers again and all we have to say is… finally!
One Foundation started in 1994 and is compromised of cousins from the Moala-Liava’a family. The same year the band was formed, O’Yaba released an album entitled One Foundation and Haloti Liava’a, an uncle to the band, suggested that One Foundation be the name of the band. “We’re all from one foundation, one family,” says Popo, “so it fit us perfectly.” Johnny Moala-Liava’a was the main force behind the creation of the band which originally consisted of Johnny, Popo, Lati, Nehasi, Kalisi, Latu, and Max Moala-Liava’a and Peipi Vaki. Johnny played a dual role as band member and producer/manager and was responsible for much if not all of the band’s songs, bookings, and albums. Popo and Kalisi recall all of them being in high school when they started with the exception of Lati who was still in junior high.
As mere teenagers, the band soon found themselves performing at every event imaginable and recorded their first cassette tape (remember those? lol) that was self-titled One Foundation (1995). Not too long after, their first album Fool Around (1996) was released with the hits “Rastaman Freddy” and “Thoughts You” among others. One Foundation worked their way to solidifying their place in Reggae music and was one of the first Reggae bands to perform at the UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival. They kept things rollin’ with their second album On the Run (1997) which features the hits “Sweet Talkin,” “Ke Tau Fakataha,” and “Irie Party.” There isn’t a single Polynesian who doesn’t have a memory attached to a One Foundation song. We grew up with them and jammed with them all these years. Their music is always reminiscent of good times and good lovin’.
Short breaks were taken with the loss of two band members, Lati in 2000 and Johnny in 2009, but One Foundation has stayed true to what they love most and do best, which is Reggae music, and they’re ready to hit the stage again. Current band members include four original members (Popo, Peipi, Kalisi, and Nehasi) and additions include Marky Vaki, Betty Moala-Liava’a, Malakai Letatuiaki, and Lui Fa. A new album is in the works and is set to release in early September! One Foundation is definitely a Reggae band to reckon with and having performed with such artists as Beenie Man, Lucky Dube, KRS-One, Mighty Diamonds, and others shows the caliber of their music.
Kalisi and Popo voiced that the band is focused on reaching a larger and broader audience outside of, but still including, the Polynesian community. One Foundation wants their music to be played for any and every occasion in your life and they hope to tour sometime in the near future. Kalisi is confident that the uniqueness of Peipi’s voice alongside the soulful vibe of Marky’s voice gives One Foundation the edge that they need to be set apart from other Reggae bands. He also adds that tomorrow’s concert is “gonna knock your socks off. Everyone’s gonna enjoy it.” We trust everyone will and we’re sure One Foundation will get the Pioneer weekend celebrations off to a fun start.
Don’t miss out on the Pioneer Reggae Bash tomorrow! Buy your tickets now! And stay in the know with One Foundation on Facebook and Twitter. You can also buy past albums of One Foundation online on cduniverse.com and amazon.com.
-Article Written By: Juliet Uata
*photos courtesy of Kalisi Moala and Popo Moala