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Musician Sings For The Blind And The Poor

Musician Sings For The Blind And The Poor
Musician John Smith performing outside the MHCC complex in Suva.
September 17
17:17 2017

If you have seen a Rotuman man singing popular island numbers in front of the MHCC complex in Suva, then you have met one of the most compassionate personalities around.

When John Smith, 77, saw members of his family struggling with blindness, it touched a sensitive nerve.

He now sings not for fame, nor for glory, but for an audience willing to spare some money for the poor and for those whose silent pleas for help go unheard.

“Whatever money I get, like $300 or $400, goes to orphanages, poor people and the blind,” he said.

Prior to his new-found calling, Mr Smith was employed by the Fiji Electricity Authority for 30 full years.

At first, he said, people would donate 20-50 cents each towards his cause.

Later, however, listening to the melodious tune of his voice, he noticed the average amount he received per person increased.

There’s no questioning Mr Smith’s talent in music, despite his humble story. He has been playing musical instruments for a large part of 63 years, picking up on the hobby when he was just 14-years-old.

“I found out that one of my brothers-in-law and aunties were partly blind. And my sister is very sickly and poor,” he said.

“That was the main reason I took up this initiative. But not just for them, I give these homeless people on the streets whatever I can too.”

The secret to how he draws a sizeable crowd, he said, was his personal renditions of popular Fijian, Hawaiian, Maori, Rotuman and Tongan songs.

He sings over 20-30 songs a day and sometimes sings for more than eight hours, usually without breakfast, which is significantly more than your average pop band performing at a sell-out concert

Sadly though, Mr Smith admitted that he was not what he used to be physically and because of that, he planned to call it a quits at the end of the year.

The senior musician from Itamuta in Rotuma had advice for aspiring musicians.

He said: “If anybody wants to take up this talent, do it to support your family or something that’s meaningful. Try to get something out of it.”

As I began to leave, he pulled me back and said he wanted to graciously thank the Suva City Council for giving him a permit to sing and also the staff of MHCC for giving him all their support.

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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