True Harmony of Pacific Music Queen

Mike Croft.
Mike Croft.

Vanessa Quai, from the sunny South Sea Islands of Vanuatu, is known to her legions of fans as the Pacific Music Queen thanks to a string of hit records and sell-out concerts.

So it is perhaps a little surprising that she has decided to launch her latest record in Morecambe in the height of winter.

But there is a good reason for the 25-year-old’s excursion into the cold.

Her new song ‘True Harmony’ is based on a prayer written by Matt Wilson, a former Morecambe journalist, and put to music by Mike Croft, a retired Heysham teacher.

The two are lifelong friends, although their relationship is largely long distance.

Matt lives in Fiji, another Pacific country 12,000 miles from his Heysham birthplace where Mike still has his home.

Matt, who worked on the old Morecambe Guardian, has been a Fiji resident since he was 22.

He wrote the original verses of True Harmony in 1996 as a call for reconciliation and unity at a troubled time for the islanders of Fiji.

They were struggling to overcome the bitterness, social damage and divisions caused by a military coup.

Matt asked Mike, who had successfully branched out into songwriting, to transform True Harmony into a song.

Mike got the inspiration for the lyrics and musical score on a cruise through Fiji’s beautiful outer islands.

The finished work was recorded initially by Danny Rae Costello, a prominent Pacific recording artist. It became a chart topper in several countries.

During a reunion in 2012 Matt and Mike decided that the theme of True Harmony still had relevance for the people of coup-scarred Fiji and for the world beyond.

That autumn Mike started to recreate the song.

He worked with award winning UK producer James McMillan and a team of top musicians, including pianist Mark Edwards. Priscilla Jones, one of the UK’s best-known gospel performers and her singers, provided backing vocals.

On the other side of the world, Matt had identified Vanessa, whose birth mother is Fijian, as a singer and performer with huge potential.

Her contribution to the performing arts in Vanuatu was officially recognised when the country’s president presented her with the National Medal of Merit and the National Jubilee Medal.

Vanessa was instantly attracted to True Harmony, not least because it fitted with her Christian faith. She laid down the vocal in her studio in Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, often called the happiest place on earth.

BBC Radio 2 is already giving True Harmony airtime. It has played on Clare Balding’s popular Good Morning Sunday programme with an audience of five million.

“It is fitting that Vanessa should start her tour here in the North West,” said Mike.

“She is looking forward to singing and meeting as many people as possible.”