Celebrating Mavis Rivers’ music and life

By Sapeer Mayron ,

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SWEET MUSIC: La’auli Matt Catingub and Christina Souza perform Pennies from Heaven for the media. They will perform classics like this and more at the Mavis Rivers Tribute Concert Saturday 7:30pm at Taumeasina.

SWEET MUSIC: La’auli Matt Catingub and Christina Souza perform Pennies from Heaven for the media. They will perform classics like this and more at the Mavis Rivers Tribute Concert Saturday 7:30pm at Taumeasina. (Photo: Misiona Simo/Samoa Observer)

Samoa’s own Mavis Rivers will be remembered in concert this weekend, as part of the Samoana Jazz and Arts Festival.

La’auli Matt Catingub is Mavis Rivers’ son, and his Tribute Band of five will perform several times over the four days they are in Samoa, culminating in Saturday evening show at Taumeasina Island Resort.

They will play the music Mavis Rivers was known for – classic jazz standards, with a healthy dose of improvisation thrown in.

La’auli will play alongside Kevin Axt, Steve Moretti, Christina Souza, Mike Booth and Andrew Hall.

“It is beyond an honour to be here to honour my mother… the biggest musical influence in my life,” said La’auli.

“To know that you here in Samoa, still respect and remember her as you do is humbling.”

Mavis Rivers passed away in 1992, on stage no less, after telling La’auli she wanted to “go out singing.”

She was born in Apia in 1929, and performed as a young girl with her parents and siblings. She eventually chased her musical dreams all the way to New Zealand, and then to Los Angeles. 

In his tribute concert on Saturday, La’auli said he intends to share many stories about his mother and her career.

Thanks to modern technologies, the concert will also feature Mavis’s own voice in parts.

“It’s been an emotional moment for me,” said La’auli.

Mavis Rivers was known in the jazz world for having a pure, soulful voice. Frank Sinatra spotted her performing and immediately signed her to his new label Reprise in 1961 where she would record three albums and several singles. 

As well as a big concert on Saturday, the band has a busy stay in Samoa. They will perform in a reception for their principal sponsors the US Embassy, and do a free public concert at the NPF Plaza on Friday 12:30pm.

The group have made time to meet musicians too. They will visit LDS Pesega High School on Friday morning to share jazz with the students, and conduct a workshop with keen players before their concert on Saturday afternoon at Taumeasina.

“We want to remind everyone what a great singer Mavis was,” said Kevin Axt, bassist for the band, who was performing with Mavis the night of her passing.

“She sang her butt off that night.”

General admission is T$30, and premium, corporate and table prices are available.

Tickets for the concert, as well as the rest of the Jazz Festival programme are available from SSAB Megastore, Nourish Café, the Coffee Bean, Home Café, Giordano’s Pizzeria, Lynn’s Supermarket, Myna’s supermarket, Tiapapata Art Gallery and Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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