It might be a relatively small island, but New Zealand is world renowned for being a place of constant and varied surprise. It also has stunning topography, wonderful people and clement weather. One aspect of Aotearoa that many might not be too familiar with is its musical talent with the exception of the meteoric rise of Lorde, and the hilarious duo act, Flight of the Conchords.
To get better acquainted with this nation’s musical talent take a peek at our list, and discover for yourself the artists that have managed to break out of NZ and make a mark on the world. Let’s exploce New Zealand’s Most Legendary Music Artists below.
New Zealand’s Most Legendary Music Artists
Whilst classical music is not a genre that gets its fair share of mainstream coverage, there weren’t too many people a few years ago who hadn’t heard of Hayley Westenra. This young woman has quietly or not so quietly, really made herself a household name for those who love classical music. In 2003 her debut album, Pure, became the fastest selling album in the UK classical charts ever.
She has sung personally to Queen Elizabeth on four separate occasions and to Princes Harry and William. She has also performed at such major sporting events as the FA Cup Final, the Mercedes Cup in Los Angles and the Rugby World Cup Final in 2011 when the All Blacks went on to win the title. She’s also collaborated with movie soundtrack royalty, including the extraordinary Ennio Morricone.
Yumi Zouma started with three friends from Christchurch who defied physical borders to produce some cool synth sounds. After the 2011 earthquake, the original members (Josh Burgess, Charlie Ryder and Kim Pflaum) found themselves living and working in different parts of the world Yumi Zouma was their way to stay in touch, despite the distance.
The expat trio quickly earned international acclaim after touring as a support act to Lorde. Since then, one of the original members has gone solo, and two others have come into the picture. These days, Yumi Zouma is composed of Sam Perry, Christie Simpson, Josh Burgess and Charlie Ryder.
Brother and sister duo Broods quickly gained traction after the release of their debut single, ‘Bridges’, in 2013. Nelson natives Georgia and Caleb Nott grew up in a musical family and, after a few stints in different bands and talent competitions, finally came together to pursue a project of their own.
They began collaborating with music producer John Little (who produced Lorde’s ‘Royals’) and were eventually signed with American label Capitol Records. The band has also toured with the likes of Ellie Goulding, Haim, and Sam Smith.
Aaradhna is an underrated New Zealand artist who is starting to make her impression in the international airwaves. Her powerfully soulful songs deal with personal, at times taboo issues: for instance, the 2012 single ‘Wake Up’ alludes to the artist’s struggles with depression, while the single ‘Brown Girl’ (and the album with the same name) talks openly about the identity issues and casual racism the mixed heritage Kiwi singer has experienced throughout her life.
The Brown Girl album was recorded in Brooklyn and Los Angeles and, since its release in 2016, has made it onto the American R&B/Soul Charts, the Australian ARIA Urban Album Charts, and the New Zealand Album Charts, reaching the number one spot in the latter.
Like Hayley Westenra, Brooke Fraser was another one of New Zealand’s musical teenage prodigies. She grew up in the capital, Wellington, and before turning twenty she’d signed with Sony Music. Her first album went down a treat in NZ, going eight times platinum. That album alone resulted in five number one radio singles.
Not bad going for a debut album. Most recently she won the award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance or Song for ‘What A Beautiful Name’ which she wrote and performed for worship group Hillsong at the 2018 Grammy Awards.
There’s probably not a lot that needs saying about this young woman who has taken the music industry by storm over the past few years. From having her first track, Royals, played on ad free and student radio when she was seventeen to playing at Coachella, Lorde has grown and grown. She’s been nominated for a Golden Globe, won a couple of Grammy Awards, a Brit Award and ten New Zealand Music Awards.
Her songs have garnered tens and tens of millions of views on TouTube and she is also the youngest artist to achieve a number one hit on the U.S. Billboard 100 since 1987. Her music is so accessible to every ear that it’s of little surprise that she is one of the most successful musical artists of her generation. The only question is, what’s she going to do next.