Gladstone woman chosen to sing in Disney movie
STARRING Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Disney's next big hit Moana will also feature one of Gladstone's very own.
Gladstone State High teacher and globe-trotting musician Melodee Leilua is off to Los Angeles in August to record the soundtrack for Moana, which critics are tipping will be one of Disney's biggest movies since Frozen.
Mrs Leilua is one of 12 musicians from her former band Te Vaka who have been given the opportunity to lay the soundtrack down for the movie that's expected to be released in November.
"I was stunned and I nearly fell over when my former band manager broke the news to me," Mrs Leilua said.
"I'm thrilled to be back and working with the team because it's a really exciting opportunity."
Although Mrs Leilua doesn't yet know what songs she'll be singing, as a former band member of Te Vaka she is used to performing around the world and on "huge stages".
"I'm just going to have to turn up and be ready to perform," she said.
"But I feel really proud to be a part of something that shows the world our beautiful culture."
Moana is Disney's first movie centred on Polynesian culture and follows a Polynesian princess's journey to find a mystical island.
"It looks like it's about the story of young girl trying to find her heritage which I think a lot of people can relate to," Mrs Leilua said.
"It will be good to represent my people and Polynesia and be a part of our heritage."
Mrs Leilua said it made sense for Disney to get Te Vaka on board to write and sing the soundtrack because the bands leader, Opetaia Foa'i, is the "go to guy for Polynesian music".
"The band has been running for more than 20 years and this will kind of be like a one off special where past members will be able to reunite for this one big Disney movie," Mrs Leilua said.
"It's such a privilege to be asked to come back."
As a big fan of Alicia Keys and Whitney Houston, Mrs Leilua said her biggest musical influence had always been Te Vaka, which she joined when she was 19-years-old and living in New Zealand.
"I don't know what I'll be doing but my role has usually been as a backing vocalist," she said.
"Polynesian music is very harmonious and has a quite a big sound.
"There's always a tribal root to the music and I think we are the only culture that uses log drums which is used in hula dancing and is a very quick beat," she said.
Although Mrs Leilua hasn't sung with Te Vaka for five years, in that time she has been busy getting married, helping out kids at school through a program run by WIN and teaching singing lessons at her home in Gladstone.
Mrs Leilua wanted to thank her family for being so supportive of her career over the years but she was also hopeful of meeting The Rock.
"I will try and get a selfie with him," she said.