Following her grandfather’s footsteps2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
In August, talented Tongan songstress and musician, Emily Muli, was named Best Pacific Female Artist Award at the 2022 Pacific Music Awards. The 27 year-old was nominated for four of the 13 categories, competing against some of New Zealand’s top artists. Onehunga’s very own hip-hop veterans, SWIDT, also won three awards on the night for Best Pacific Group, Best Pacific Hip Hop Artist and Best Pacific Song for Kelz Garage.
On accepting her award, Emily acknowledged the sacrifices of those who came before her and reflected on the fears and anxieties she overcame to achieve goals she never thought possible. She finds inspiration in meeting different people, and listens to diverse genres of music as a way to expand her sonic knowledge when laying down demo tracks.
“There were times I had to remind myself that it all starts with me. If I wasn’t confident enough to release music, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to win this award, and if I didn’t believe in myself, I wouldn’t have had these life changing experiences and opportunities – locally and worldwide,” she says.
The Māngere Bridge resident grew up surrounded by the sound of Tongan hymns at church and at family gatherings, which also inspired her passion for music. Her late grandfather, Henele Vaka Muli, was a treasured Tongan songwriter and composer; a gift he passed down through his musical story-telling. Emily says she is grateful to her village of supporters and credits her achievements to them.
“To win was a surreal yet humbling feeling – especially being nominated amongst other amazing wāhine. In all honesty, it was a real shock! I went in with zero expectations and was just grateful to be there. It’s still a buzzy feeling to have won, but I’m feeling super honoured.”
With people and peace at the forefront of what drives her, it was a Mission trip to Tanzania in East Africa when she was 16 which changed the trajectory of Emily’s life, directing her onto a career path as a passionate public servant and social justice advocate. She has a Bachelor of Music majoring in Popular Music at the University of Auckland – training that equipped her with the knowledge and skills musically, lyrically and performance-wise.
Emily Muli was named Best Pacific Female Artist Award at the 2022 Pacific Music Awards (photo supplied)