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Tuesday Artist Spotlight: Paula Fuga

Born and raised on the island of Waimanalo, singer/songwriter Paula Fuga has embodied the communal spirit of Hawaii through her music and actions off stage since launching her career in the early 2000s. Orphaned as a child, Fuga was raised by her uncles and grandparents in Hawaii where she showed an unbridled passion for music and songwriting throughout her upbringing.

Paula Fuga

Her first attempt in pursuing a professional career in music was when she traveled to the US mainland in 2003 for an audition with the reality TV sensation American Idol. She proudly wore a shirt reading “Big Girls Rock” and sang a rendition of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,” but was surprisingly met with a unanimous “no” from the judges Randy Jackson, Paul Abdul, and Simon Cowell.

The audition gave her well-deserved exposure and although the judge’s verdict was not ideal, Fuga took the criticism in stride and confidently moved forward with her dream of becoming a musical icon. A few years later in 2006 she recorded and released her debut LP Lilikoi via Punahele Productions, which features 13 original tracks written and performed by Fuga. The record received immediate critical acclaim and exalted her to stardom in the Hawaiin community. Upon the release she was even awarded the “Most Promising Artist” by the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, Hawaii’s equivelent to the Grammy Awards.

Since breaking through as a praised musician in Hawaii Fuga has used her fame as a platform to promote a positive cultural message and give back to the island community that raised her. In 2012 Fuga delivered a heartfelt TEDx Talk in Maui where she shares the story of her journey from homelessness as a child to a respected musical icon in Hawaii. Towards the end of the Tedx Talk she even shares the song that helped get her “big break” in the music industry.

Since 2006 Fuga has also befriended local Hawaiin music legend Jack Johnson. The two wrote and released a song “Country Road” in the late 2000s, and followed the collaboration with a world tour in 2010 that took the pair to venues across the world including Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, US and Japan. Two years later in 2012, Jack Johnson, John Cruz and Fuga embarked on a 7-show acoustic tour of the Hawaiin Islands in the wake of their collaboration on “In the Morning,” which was released on Johnson’s record This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday, Vol. 2.

On Saturday 8/26 Fuga will bring her talents and musical message to The Cutting Room in New York City. Paula’s previous performances in the Big Apple include supporting Jack Johnson at Madison Square Garden, so this intimate singer/songwriter showcase is not one to be missed. Tickets are still available and can be purchased at this link.

Paula Fuga