Your voice, your words, your work can be shared with just the click of a mouse and seen and heard by the world within the blink of an eye. Because of social media, the power to choose the next biggest thing belongs to the people, to you and I. The WhatItDo has already featured a few Polynesian artists from the U.S. who rose to fame by using social media in the form of YouTube, MySpace, and even blogging. Polynesians worldwide have caught on to the phenomenon and have used it to blast their careers into high gear. Don’t believe me? Just ask the boys from Fourtunate. Though only formed back in April of this year, word of this group and their videos caught and spread like wildfire. The WhatItDo had the chance to chat with the handsome young Samoan fellas from Sydney, Australia. Nothing was off-limits as the boys discussed how their group was formed to their experience on “X-Factor: Australia” and their instant popularity through their YouTube videos.
Fourtunate consists of brothers Izayah (Zay), Jakiel (Kiel), and Jaye Mariner Fuimaono and friend Joseph (Jojo) Kalepo. Before the group was formed, all four danced together for dance crew Amaziah. Their background in music, however, started back in their childhood years. Zay (the oldest of the 3 brothers) and Kiel were singing from the respective ages of 12 and 10. According to uncle and manager Andrew Mariner, both Zay and Kiel already had posted a few videos on YouTube of themselves singing at the ages of 14 and 12 – the videos collectively getting half a million views! Both took a break from music for a few years but re-emerged onto the music scene last year when they auditioned for “X-Factor” as duo Brother Love and then again this year but as Fourtunate. Jojo began singing at the age of 12 for church worship and then for school performances in high school. Jaye, although being the youngest of the group, has been singing ever since he was old enough to talk. The boys credit Ruth—mother of Zay, Kiel, and Jaye—for the group’s name, having thought of ‘Fortunate’ at first then adding the play on words since there was four of them in the group. Thus, Fourtunate was created.
As previously mentioned, the group was formed in time for the “X-Factor: Australia” auditions this past April. Although Fourtunate did not make it to the live shows, they learned a valuable lesson from the experience. “What we experienced on the show was so different from what was shown on TV,” said Kiel. Jojo agreed and added, “Nothing was spontaneous – everything was planned out from beginning to end. [The producers] already knew what they wanted and we could see that as time went on.” Fourtunate understood that if they wanted to show the world who they really were and what they had to offer, they would have to present themselves in a way that was raw and unedited.
When asked about the time from when they uploaded their first video to when the views were up in the thousands, manager Andrew confidently stated, “Instantly.” Once the boys made the official Fourtunate Facebook page and posted their first video on there, views were up in the thousands by the end of that same week. Since then, each video uploaded has taken up a life of its own, filled with comments from fans in Australia, New Zealand and throughout the Pacific, Hawaii, California, and even up to the east coast in New York. Again, Fourtunate takes pride in their unaltered cover videos that showcase their vocal talent and harmonies. All of them take turns singing the lead but when harmonizing, Zay and Kiel will take the part of first tenor or falsetto while Jojo takes the baritone. They’re also able to interchange singing lead and harmony on point without missing a beat. Their style of singing is definitely within the realms of mainstream R&B and Pop, giving us a mixture of Usher, Beyonce, Jon B, and John Legend just to name a few. Add choreography to their singing and you’ve got a performance worth watching.
While Fourtunate is still a young teenage boy group, they already know and understand the risks that come from pursuing such a dream. “Our Christian background and our work with our church keeps us humble and grounded,” said Zay. Can’t go wrong when you put God first. The boys also recognize that success only comes with hard work. Jaye was on point when he said that “talent will only take you so far. We need to come prepared to work and give it our all every day.” With the end of 2011 and the new year approaching, Fourtunate is focused in on their goals and fearless in accomplishing them.
-Article Written by: Pesi Kava
*article photos courtesy of Andrew Mariner
*YouTube video courtesy of Fourtunate2k11