NZ’s own “Queen of the Blues” Makuini releases new EP   1 Aug 2013

Charlotte Everett

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Hidden away in northwest England is a Blues Queen that Aotearoa can claim as their own. Hailing from the banks of the Wanganui River, in the rural village of Jerusalem, Makuini has enjoyed an incredible international career and is now returning to her roots with the upcoming release of her new EP, ‘Roll of the Dice’.

Makuini grew up with Jazz and the Blues. Her childhood was filled with the sounds of Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Koko Taylor, and later, Etta James. Raised by her grandparents Nana Emma and Uncle Tommy – who were great entertainers in their own right – music is in Makuini’s DNA; it’s running through her veins. Her other grandmother, Nana Uta, had travelled the USA as a singer, so it’s not surprising that Makuini – the eldest of 14 – would go on to follow in her footsteps.

Having toured over 50 countries, Makuini was keen to journey back to the land where it had all begun for her. Her return to New Zealand after 22 years prompted the music that appears on her soon-to-be-released EP. One of the tracks – ‘I Am The River’ or ‘Ko Au Te Awa’ – was written by her sister Heeni, and appears twice on the EP, sung in both English and Te Reo Maori. Makuini explains, “It tells the blues not of the Mississippi delta, but of the great Wanganui River and our indigenous race, the Maori people of Aotearoa, their struggles, joys and triumphs”. The other tracks – ‘Corporate Man’, ‘Down On Their Luck’ and ‘Move Over’ – speak of Makuini’s travels and her observations of life.

Any great Blues singer is supported by a great band, and naturally, Makuini is no exception. Peter ‘Sarge’ Frampton leads ‘The Hoo Doo Men’, which features musicians from 10cc, Jethro Tull, Climax Blues Band, Drifters and UK Blues Brothers.

Makuini’s incredible voice is a powerhouse; the sultry sound still echoes in my head long since stopping the CD. The EP serves up a hearty helping of that characteristic Mississippi Blues sound, with just a touch of Aotearoa to enhance the flavour.

‘Roll of the Dice’ will be released on 5 August, through all major download sites.

Head to our competitions page to win a copy of her latest album

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