Lou'ana. Photo / Boudica Photography.

Get To Know Soulful Singer & Songwriter Lou'ana

The Pacific Music Awards finalist is one to watch with her mesmerising voice and mystical style

The annual Pacific Music Awards acknowledges the efforts of a wide variety of Pacific artist's from Aotearoa.

Founded in 2004, the event has promoted and celebrated the music of our Pacific Artist's over the years, including Aaradhna, Nesian Mystik, Te Vaka, Scribe, Tha Feelstyle, Ardijah and Dei Hamo.

This year's finalists announced in April include 24 finalists across 13 categories. Polynesian heavy metal band Shepherds Reign has been nominated in three categories, including Best Group and Best Song, a first for the awards in this musical genre.

WATCH: Eye To Eye by Lou'ana

While the event has been postponed with a new date yet to be announced, we took the opportunity to speak to one of the finalists and rising stars Lou'ana Whitney -
up for three nominations- Best Pacific Female Artist, Best Pacific Soul/R&B Artist and Best Pacific Music Video for her spellbinding Eye To Eye project.

Born in Auckland and educated in Hamilton, Lou’ana grew up in a household where music was a family affair - her mother and uncles are also songwriters. Nostalgic greats including Fleetwood Mac frequented her radio growing up. She learned quickly how to perform through school musicals, performances, and choirs before going on to study and becoming professionally trained in Jazz at the New Zealand School of Music Te Kōkī.

The Samoan-New Zealander released her first solo material in 2019, and for the past six years has worked full time, creating and sculpting her own presence within Auckland’s vibrant community. Whitney has performed around the country with various bands and projects including funk fusion legends the Hipstamatics.

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Powerful and raw, her work inspires self-expression and mystical energy, referencing the likes of Amy Winehouse, Etta Fitzgerald and Stevie Nicks.

Eye To Eye, directed by Anna Duckworth and supported by NZ On Air, is described by Lou’ana as a catalyst for her personal success.

The video presents a magical realm - crystal ball and all. Drawing from 1970s inspired horror film Love Witch (2017), Eye to Eye brings fantasy to the music scene and captures the harmony between film and sound. The project has an all Pacific female cast and crew, an important note for Whitney who says everything about the project was “on purpose”.

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On other Pacific artists, Lou’ana praises Shepherd's Reign for being “badass and unapologetic”, as well as Olivia Foa’i for fusing pop music with her roots.

Her advice to hopeful young musicians?  “Don't be afraid to create what you want to create. We are very lucky that the Pacific community is so supportive, there is always someone to reach out to. Take every opportunity to learn to get better and just do it!”

Lou'ana is inspired by the style of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Photo / Boudica Photography.

What did music look like in your household growing up?
"Mum listening to the radio to Fleetwood Mac and Tracy Chapman."

My favourite style icons…

"I love Selena! She was a real fashion icon - she designed all her own fashion outfits. A lot of artists look to her style actually - her bustiers! I love to design outfits in my head too and then work with the amazing Brooke Tyson for custom made pieces, especially for my performances. Brooke is amazing and she styled my Eye To Eye project. The fashion from the 60s, 70s I love! Anything retro, funky, boho. How I dress is based on my intuition that day, and how I feel… although I do wear a lot of paisley and velvet. I’m also inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin."

My favourite travel destination...
"Europe. Greece and Italy! I love the cobblestone roads and just soaking up these cities and their ancient history. I’ve always admired the ancient temples - especially from learning about Greek mythology."

My favourite gig memory….

"Samoa with the Andrew Faleatua Band at the Samoana Jazz Festival - we filmed the song ‘Samoa Forever’. A highlight for me, as it was the first time being back in the Motherland since I was a one-year-old!"

What would you say to young female Pacific musicians who dream of being in the music industry?

"Don't be afraid to create what you want to create. We are very lucky that the pacific community is so supportive always someone to reach out to. Take every opportunity to learn to get better and just do it."

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