Analatai Fisi’iahi, a senior from California majoring in music, experienced a roaring standing ovation at the end of her senior recital. People whooped and cheered while she gave hugs and modestly thanked them for coming to see her performance. Commenting on the recital, music professor Jennifer Duerden, said, “It was excellent. I really did enjoy the whole performance. She has a really nice, powerful voice.”
Crowd gavorite: “Son of a Preacher Man”
According to one of her backup singers, Sarah Knight, a senior from California majoring in vocal performance, “My favorite song tonight was the ‘Son of a Preacher Man.’ Analatai brought energy and some spice to the song. I’m getting chills thinking about it. It really showed off her personality.”
Another backup singer, Nicole Villejo, a senior from Hawaii majoring in music, said, “I love her energy. Amazing voice and unique music. She brings a blues feel to the program. Not a lot of singers can sing that way. My favorite songs tonight were ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ and ‘Natural Woman.’ It was fun to see a glimpse of Tai’s powerful voice and her happy personality.”
With a wide grin, Duerden said, “It’s hard to pick one song. I guess my favorite song was ‘Son of a Preacher Man.’ I loved how everyone involved in singing got really into it. I could tell Analatai was having fun with this song.” Fisi’iahi put on a big smile and danced by shaking her shoulders and hips during her performance of her last song.
Although a different song was his favorite, the accompanist, Lawrence Laureno, a senior from the Philippines majoring in vocal performance, said, “My favorite song we performed tonight was ‘The Spirit Moving.’ It featured her strong voice and raw talent. That song really shows her strength in that genre of music.”
Fisi’iahi gracefully appeared before the 60-seated attendees. Her long black dress, studded with golden designs flowed with her movement. Quietly taking center stage in front of the grand piano, Fisi’iahi took a moment to collect herself. At the piano, the accompanist delicately played the introduction to “Caro mio ben.” Fisi’iahi graciously sang the Italian lyrics.
Fisi’iahi presented her vocal range by singing two additional Italian songs “Nel Cor piu non mi sento” by Giovanni Paisiello and a selection from “Le nozze di Figaro” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Taking the audience by surprise, Fisi’iahi sang with an upbeat quality with traditional spiritual songs “Joshua Took the Battle of Jericho,” “There is a Balm in Gilead,” and “I Feel the Spirit Moving.”
Shifting the mood to the Christmas spirit, Fisi’iahi performed the songs “Silent Night” by Franz Xaver Gruber, “We Need a Little Christmas” by Jerry Herman, and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Kim Gannon. Each song was performed elegantly with gentle touch from the piano.
Near the end of performance, Fisi’iahi was joined by her backup singers. They performed “Natural Woman” by Carole King and “Son of Preacher Man” by John Hurley.
Fisi’iahi thanked the audience for coming to the recital. She specifically thanked and gave leis to her back up singers, accompanist, and music professors. Fisi’iahi especially thanked the music program for teaching her and exposing her to music theory. She laughed because she admitted she did not know how music worked.
Preparing for the show
Having taught Fisi’iahi throughout the music program, Duerden said, “While Tai was in the music program, I saw her grow into the singer we saw tonight. Vocal students are required to perform before graduating and they have all worked and practiced everyday for the whole semester for this recital.
“She has a really nice voice. I liked how she brought music she was comfortable with. She was able to learn classical Italian pieces like ‘Caro mio ben.’”
Having practiced with Fisi’iahi, Knight said, “It was fun preparing because she’s just a go-with-the-flow kind of person. She’s really fun to be around and of course a great singer. Analatai brings energy and life to the rehersals.
“I met Tai during our first semester through the music department and program. It was really in the Come to Zion Choir. Ever since then, she has grown so much in singing. More confident and powerful.”