From the Land of the Long White Cloud to the Beehive State, a young performer arises. At the tender age of 17, urban island singer and dancer Kotahi Tarawhiti is making her mark. She began performing as a child and has always been either dancing or singing. Properly trained at Center Stage Studios in American Fork, UT by some of the entertainment industry’s best choreographers in all genres of dance, Kotahi now gives private lessons to young students. But besides being moved by the art of dance, she’s a singer and when you blend both of her talents together, you’ve got a shining star who’s ready to take over in 2012.
TWID: Where are you from and when did you begin performing?
Kotahi: I was born in Hawaii, raised in New Zealand until I was 11 years old, then moved to Arizona for a year, and then my dad got a job offer in Utah and we’ve been here ever since. I’m 17 years old. I started singing here in the states when I was about 11 years old.
TWID: Who do you look up to as a music artist and who do you compare your style to?
Kotahi: When it comes to modern music, I definitely look up to Rihanna and Beyonce and as weird as she is, Lady Gaga. She’s fearless and it gets me going but I also love the Oldies and music artists like Patti LaBelle and Stevie Wonder, and obviously all of the local Polynesian artists around here. And musically I like to compare my style to Justin Bieber, young Pop-ish kind of style like Alicia Keys and Beyonce and Jessie J.
TWID: What do you love most about singing?
Kotahi: Everything about singing feels great to me. Just being on stage and being in the presence of a great crowd and letting my feelings out in the music, but my greatest satisfaction as a singer is knowing that what I sing, someone else feels it. And somebody else can pull something from that so that they can also feel how I’m feeling at that very moment and being able to connect with me. I really really love that.
TWID: So I hear you’re a dancer too as well. How do you incorporate that into your music?
Kotahi: I’ve been dancing since I moved to Utah at Center Stage Studios. I’ve trained with people like Chelsea Hightower, Ashley Delgrosso, Bosco, and a bunch of random artists but dancing is probably at the same level as my singing. I love them both equally as much.
TWID: How do you incorporate your culture into being a performer?
Kotahi: My Polynesian culture is probably what inspires me the most to sing and dance; it’s the thing that pushes me. My dad grew up singing and he pushed me and gave me the inspiration to sing. He supported me and promised to be there every step of the way for me. When I get on stage and perform, I always wear a Maori necklace which is part of my culture and say a prayer before I perform.
TWID: When will your album be released this year?
Kotahi: I’m currently working on my album. Previous songs I’ve done were more Pop music related. Now, I’m working on music that has me deep in my roots. Right now I’m working on a song called “Polynesian Girl”. I have two music videos out right now. My first one was “I’m Not Alone” and my most recent one is “Taxi Driver”. My new single called “Polynesian Girl”, it will be completely original and it will be something for everybody to look forward to. It’s gonna be different and I’m excited and I think it will be something for everybody to look forward to. It tells my story about moving to this country with me and my family and how I felt like a fish out of water and how I’ve grown from those experiences.
Just a senior in high school and getting ready to graduate in the summer, Kotahi balances her school work and performing with a lot of self discipline and commitment. With the support of her parents, she manages to balance her dance practices, music studio time, maintain a 4.0 GPA, and be with her family and church on a daily basis. As young as she is, she has a lot to look forward to. Kotahi’s humble character and golden heart causes people to gravitate towards her performances have already won her loyal fans. One thing’s for sure, this beautiful Polynesian girl is ready to rock the mic and stage in 2012 and that’s WhatItDo!
Article Written by: Elizabeth Lavulo
*Article Photo courtesy of KotahiMusic
*Photo courtesy of SHINE