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Young composer wins hearts and awards2 min read

Jun 11, 2024 2 min

Young composer wins hearts and awards2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Aria Clarke (photo supplied)

Aria Clarke used to start singing as soon as she woke up in her cot, and years later, her passion for music remains strong.

The 12-year old musician and songwriter from Onehunga has been recognised for her compositions, recently becoming one of five finalists for the Kōkako Award, for best children’s performance with her song Be My Own Me.

Although she didn’t win, Aria spent a day in a workshop with members of the New Zealand Opera and the Auckland Philharmonia, and attended the New Zealand Children’s Music Awards. What Aria enjoys most about competitions, is sharing her music with people and hearing others singing her songs too, and simply doing what she loves.

“You don’t need to be an amazing musician or singer or songwriter. Just have fun and enjoy music,” says Aria, who attends Royal Oak Intermediate.

With musician parents, Aria has music in her blood. Her parents recorded her early morning cot sessions and compiled a CD called Birdsong. This evolved into singing along to music played at home, and playing the piano and ukulele. While at Royal Oak Primary School, Aria joined the choir and ukulele group, and started writing her own songs.

In 2021, she joined the New Zealand Junior Ukulele Squad, and continued to be a member in 2022. Although it didn’t run in 2023, being part of the squad inspired Aria’s songwriting further, and her first official composition, Butterfly, honoured her younger brother, Luca, who is about to turn four. She entered Butterfly into the national Uke-Can-Do-It songwriting competition, and was the youngest ever winner in 2022. In 2023, she made history by winning the competition again with Be My Own Me, a song about celebrating your individuality and being comfortable and confident with who you are.

“When I write songs, I start by just making up a tune on the piano or ukulele, and then once I’ve played it for a bit and learned how to do it over and over again, I start humming some words to it. I then put a piece of paper on the piano and do a sentence at a time, and sometimes I try make it rhyme,” says Aria.