Akasa: World Citizen
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World Citizen

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The band's official bio sheet:

The Story So Far...

cd cover For those of you who have just joined us, Akasa formed in April 1998. The original line up included Diana Clark, Vicki King, Melanie Shanahan and Andrea Watson. Di, Andy and Vick had all been through the Victorian College of the Arts studying jazz and improvisation together and had sung in the a cappella group Noir with Veronica Lees. After working together for three years, Veronica took off to Asia for an extended working tour. Noir disbanded and Mel was asked to join the remaining three to create a new ensemble.

The first few months of the group's life were frantic and in many ways challenging. Within a month we had recorded our first demo, had performed four times and had our first photo shoot (cover photo of our self titled PE). But more importantly, we had created a group committed to social justice, equity and trust. A lot to pack into four short weeks when everyone is working other jobs.

New repertoire, gigs and business kept us rolling along until January 1999. At this time we decided we wanted to document our existing work with a recording. Our secondary motivation was to have a CD to take up to the National Folk Festival (our first big festival). Pre-production began late Jan and we were in the studio by mid Feb. Thanks to the wonderful Elly at Black Widow Design and John at Black Market Records we had the CDs in our hands two hours before we left for Canberra.

The remainder of 1999 saw us performing at a variety of Melbourne events and venues including Boite Winter Festival, The Victorian Arts' Centre, Shepparton Arts' Festival, Yarra Community Arts' Festival, International Women's Day, Reclaim the Night and The Anti-Cancer Candlelight Vigil.

cd cover Towards the end of the year Andy and Di decided that they were going to travel OS in 2000. With Di gone for a minimum of six months and Andy for an indefinite period of time we all made the very difficult decision that they would both leave the group after the National Folk Festival the following year.

The next few months were wonderful and harrowing. We had great success with our EP in the US by winning the C.A.R.A (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards) for Best Folk/ World Album and Best Folk/World Song for Walk With Me. Our experiences at Cygnet and Port Fairy Folk Festivals were beautiful and we all came to realise how difficult it was going to be to "break up", so to speak. However the National was the most difficult. After singing together for up to five years, we all felt like we were losing our best friends and sources of musical inspiration.

Of course the show did go on. In April 2000, Akasa was joined by Vanessa Fisher (aka Mihi Rangi), who we had known through our extended musical family in Melbourne. A month later, a busker at the Camberwell Markets (Melbourne) was recommended to us. She turned out to be Heidi Bradburn, a friend from workshops and the festival circuit, who joined Akasa just in time for the new line-up's first performance at the The Boite Winter Festival in Melbourne.

The injection of new energy brought about a marked change in the group's sound. During the rest of 2000 and 2001, the repertoire started to incorporate traditional Maori songs and dance, humorous pieces and new material focussing on social justice.

After a solid year or so of performing together at various festivals and venues throughout Australia's East coast, we were keen to document our time together so far. With Siiri Metsar at the helm at Metropolis Studios in Melbourne, we spent four gruelling but exciting months recording and mixing the group's first full-length album, World Citizen.

Thanks to the dedicated teams at Black Widow Graphic Design and Black Market Music, World Citizen, which features the beautiful artwork of Jacqui Lewis, was soon ready to be launched into the world. Since its release in early 2002, World Citizen has received critical acclaim both nationally and internationally.

The official launch of the CD also heralded Mihi's final gig with Akasa. After working with us for two exciting years she decided to further explore her Maori heritage and a solo career. So again, we needed to find a new member. The hunt was on... After two years of travelling, Andy returned to Australia at just the right time. The 2000 National Festival in Canberra had been her farewell performance with Akasa. Synchronistically, it was this festival, two years later, that also celebrated her return.

With a full calendar of Australian-based gigs scheduled for the rest of 2002, Akasa are also emersed in the planning phase of an international tour for 2003.

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