Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Rising Samoan pop artist ‘perfects’ his most recent sound

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Kendall Vano | Reporter

When it comes to producing a popular hit, like his latest hit ‘Like I Do’, nobody does it like Denzel Kelemete. 

From a young age, Denzel always had a talent for picking up sounds. 

And it was sitting in the St Joseph’s Catholic Parish in Grey Lynn, Auckland, where he took in the sounds that would influence his musical stylings. 

“For me, it all started in the church,” Denzel says.

Glued to the pews, Denzel inhaled the harmonies that echoed across the halls – Samoan Hymns sung by his aiga. And he says music meant everything to his family.

Denzel and Hary Kelemete. Photo: NZ Herald

“I was always surrounded by my cousins. We all grew up together on Schofields (St), playing, making and singing to the beat for the longest time.” 

Denzel says his grandmother instilled in him a lifelong passion for singing. “If she caught you not singing then be prepared for Jandals flying,” Denzel jests. 

“She would come shouting ‘pese, pese!’  

“My dad Harry Kelemete plays the keyboard among other instruments. He would often accompany the musical items with my grandad who was the church’s choir conductor.”

While in his formative years, Denzel kept an open mind; reflecting on his past stints into other genres, he couldn’t help but poke fun. 

“And then there was that time I branched out into punk rock for some time. This was during my rebellious phase.” 


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A post shared by Denzel (@areudenzel)

Despite the challenges, Denzel paid tribute to his family for their ongoing guidance. He gives a special nod to his dad, the jack-of-all-trades who supported him in his sessions to follow his dreams of making music. 

His love of family culminated in songs attributed to them. The song “Mama” was written honouring his grandmother while a whole Samoan christian album called ‘Aleluia, Fa’afetai Aleluia’’ was made in honour to his grandfathers. 

Branching out and trying different genres adds to Denzel’s musical range, whether it’s gospel or hardcore punk rock, he always suspected a return to his true passion of  pop music. 

“Feel good funk-infused jams with a hint of 80’s ballads dashed in there for good measure.” he Adds. 

Denzel’s latest single ‘Like I Do’ was written in colaboration with Silver Scroll Award winner Dan Martin and follows on the success of his debut single ‘Perfect’

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