In Samoa, it’s hard to go anywhere and not hear that unmistakable warm voice of Richard Parker. It could be on the streets, at the super market or at a siva in the R.S.A - anywhere.
Leading up to his Concert at the Taumeasina this Saturday, it seems that the local radio stations have amped up the Parker sounds.
His music is for every occasion. It has the feel good quality of summer time music that all generations of Samoans can agree on at gatherings and as soon as the song “uamativaloualofa” is available for karaoke – party goers will belt that tune out as enthusiastically as any Whitney love song ballad.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Parker discusses the future of his musical career and gives us an idea on the intriguing persona behind the music that Samoans value as a style unique within the realm of Samoan music.
While his fan base has typically been a much older generation of Samoans over the age of 50, Parker also has a sizeable group of younger listeners jamming to his tunes as well, which according to him is because he likes to mix a little R‘n’B and rap into his music to keep it relevant to his younger listeners.
“Not many young ones like my music that’s why I have rap in my songs,” he said.
“Sometimes when I talk to a young person, they tell me ‘hey I like that rapper’ so they’re not talking about me, they’re talking about the other guy in my video.
“That’s the whole idea of me putting rap in my stuff.
My son tells me that I have an old style of singing. The rap has always been there from the start, I had a band back in the day in Melbourne and we used to play in the nightclubs, not the sivas. That’s where I got the idea of putting the reggae with rap in it, so it’s not a new thing to me; it’s about 30 years ago. So yeah that’s how old I am,” he laughs.
Surprisingly, Parker considers himself more of a song writer than a singer, giving us an insight on how he puts together a song.
“I’ve got more a gift of writing music because I don’t really class myself as a singer. I don’t really like my own voice. I can write a lot of good stuff, but for me it’s good because I can come up with some good tunes here in my head, then I put it down on my phone make a recording track and then I go to the studio and work on the whole song.
“Most of my songs come out like that, I get a tune, and then I go home and have a dozen – not vailima, I wish! We have another little house in the back of my house where I go get away from everyone and I sit there have a few beers and write music.”
Most people dislike hearing the sound of their voice played back on an audio recorder, buts it’s very incisive and puzzling to know that some talented singers feel the same way.
“I know it’s terrible, I don’t like the sound of my own voice. Even some of the people I see around where I live come up to me and ask ‘sole you got any C.Ds for me’ and I say to them ‘do you think I even listen to my own songs?’ I don’t carry my songs or listen to my songs.
The only time I listen to them is when I’m recording them, then for about a week I listen to it to make sure it has everything I need and after it’s finished, I don’t hear it anymore and it’s gone. I’m not a person who listens to my own songs.”
It was time to ask song writer/singer about the song “Ua mativa lou alofa”. A song that has played in just about every public space during 2017, those even young Samoan teenagers can sing word for word. Parker revealed that even he was surprised at how much that song resonated with many young people.
“The funny thing about that song is that I had a show about three months ago in Melbourne and it was about 1200 people who came,” he said.
“That was the first concert I had seen where most of the crowd were the young ones between 18 to 30 years, I was very surprised.
Soon as I say the first word to that song, the crowd started singing it over me, I couldn’t even hear myself they sang the song until the end, pretty much screaming it out and I thought to myself, who are these young people? I released that song early in 2017. The song is doing really well and I’m just blessed that I put something out like that and people like it.
“It’s very interesting because I wrote that song about a mate of mine. We have drinks in the weekend and we talk about stuff and even now he doesn’t even know that I wrote that song about him and his wife.
‘Mativaloualofa’ means ‘I’ve had enough’ or ‘my love for you is no longer’. Every time I would catch up with him, I would get sick of him complaining about his wife and how he no longer loved her. So after one night of him complaining about his wife again, I started writing about it after he left. Even now he doesn’t know that the song is about him.”
Tomorrow, Parker will take to the stage live just like he has done many times before, but Samoans all around the world should probably take note that those times are numbered and that we may not have the opportunity to see that again as Parker talks about quitting concerts.
“I’m satisfied with what I’m doing and when I’m done with something, that’s it. A lot of people think that performing concerts is easy, people think, oh yeah, this guy just goes out and sings and it’s easy. It’s very stressful and if you have big a band, you want to make sure that everything is alright for them.
I’m not saying I’m quitting music but I’m quitting concerts, if they invite me to a big festival or something sure I’ll still go, but in regards to concerts, I’d like to go out while I’m still on top. When I think it’s the right time to quit concerts then I just announce it that night.
“I performed my last show in Christchurch after the concert I said ‘sorry guys but I’m not coming back here’. I like to go out with a big bang. I wouldn’t like to go to a show one day where there was like only 20 people who showed up. Same as Wellington, I did Wellington last year and it was awesome, there was over 2000 people, finished with Wellington and hopefully this year I’ll finish with Auckland.”
Luckily for us here in Samoa, we will be last on his goodbye tour list. Parker still has some unfinished business here such as his charity work with Mapufagalele – a place that is very special to him,
“Samoa is going to be my last because I’ve got a lot of things to do here. Like especially with my charity mapufagalele, I like to help out that place because it’s not funded by the government, it’s only funded by the Catholic Church. When I was young I always wanted to help the old people’s home.
There was an old guy who I think was my dad’s cousin who was up at the old peoples home and we used to go there on Sundays and take a toonai to him and every time I would go in there I thought it was pretty sad.
It was like a hospital, with them lying in bed and then my old man said to me that this was a place where people who have got no families to look after them and I thought if I become someone, I want to help these people.
I don’t think I’ve become someone yet, but I’ve been afforded the ability to do this for them. I’m blessed to have this talent to help them so I kept that promise to myself to help them and hopefully I’ll help them again towards the end of this year.”
Here, together with his wife and kids, Richard Parker is looking forward to some well needed rest and relaxation after this weekend when the family will head to their farm in the mountains where Parker hopes to sit by the waterfall and “have some beers and maybe write some more music”.
Not to take anything for granted for it could be one of his last shows in Samoa, fans will be attending his live concert at the Taumeasina Island resort tomorrow at 7pm. Tickets are WST$60 per person which can be purchased at the hotel reception.