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Tribute to Mavis Rivers “From Samoa To Sinatra”

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The highly anticipated new CD recorded by Grammy Award winner and son of Samoan Queen of Jazz, Mavis Rivers La’auli Matt Catingub was released in Los Angeles last week, Friday, May 12, 2023.

“It is therefore most fitting to pay tribute to the memory of Mavis Chloe Rivers,” Pulotu Siteine Peta Si’ulepa-Ala, Festival Director, Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival 2Samoas told news reporters.

Regarding the CD, La’auli Matt Catingub excitedly shared through social media with family, friends and Mavis Rivers followers; “ My brand new recording FROM SAMOA TO SINATRA on Summit Records has been released.

“Dedicated to and WITH, my jazz singing mommy Mavis Rivers, the first female artist signed by Frank Sinatra to his Reprise Record Label.

“Fantastic band and fantastic orchestra, it's a career defining recording, and I hope you all enjoy it! It’s available at the usual places (Amazon, iTunes Store, etc.). Will be heard often on SiriusXM's Siriusly Sinatra channel and stay tuned for live show announcements too!”  https://www.mattcatingub.com/fromsamoatosinatra

Peta informed local media that both Festival Boards of Samoa and American Samoa had tried unsuccessfully to bring La’auli Matt Catingub to the recently held 7th Annual Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival 2Samoas 2023 to pre-launch the CD in Samoa and American Samoa as a fore-runner for the actual launch date in LA last week, May 12. 

This would also prelude next year’s 8th Annual Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival 2024, which we will Theme as “From Samoa to Sinatra” – a great promotion to the international Jazz world — fans, musicians and music lovers of just how connected Mavis Rivers, Samoa, American Samoa – and Frank Sinatra are.  

As the 2023 event was not possible – plans are now progressing with the 2024 Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival “From Samoa to Sinatra” – featuring La’auli Matt Catingub leading a Jazz orchestra and a star-studded festival line-up of international Samoan as well as other Jazz musicians.

The Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival brought La’auli to American Samoa and Samoa for live performances during the 2018 Festival, where a special tribute was paid to Mavis. In American Samoa, it was a grand event held at the Fale Lamei in Utulei, hosted by SJSF with major sponsors McDonald’s American Samoa and PPTCAS.

It is the intention of the festival organizers to highlight the significant contribution that Mavis Rivers made to jazz both in NZ and the US, and by doing so bring the Islands of 2Samoa’s into the international jazz arena, according to Pulotu.

“We aim to attract the jazz music world to the 2Samoa’s as the birthplace and cultural homelands of Samoa’s Queen of Jazz.

“Through Mavis’ love of jazz and the continuation of this legacy by her highly talented son Matt Catingub, we hope Mavis legacy will inspire, encourage and promote the teaching and performance of jazz music for current and future generations of Samoans.

“The Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival will continue to grow this legacy.”

SJAF celebrates Mavis as the Samoan Queen of Jazz with American Samoa as the birthplace of Jazz in the Pacific. Her son, La’auli Matt Catingub released a new CD, “From Samoa to Sinatra”, in Los Angeles, Friday, May 12, 2023. May 19 is Mavis River’s birthday. [courtesy photo]

Pulotu shared the highlights of the recently held Jazz Festival which featured Honolulu based Navy band, the US Pacific Fleet Protocol Combo Band as well as local musicians.  The participation of the US Navy Band was a more than welcome treat for festival goers and music fans because the Festival had been cancelled for 3 years due to the Measles and COVID- 19 pandemic. 

Of note, the Festival has now moved to an earlier start in the year to coincide with the annual UNESCO International Jazz Day celebrated in both Samoa and American Samoa as the only Pacific Islands countries globally.

The festival opened in Samoa from 27th to the 30th of April 2023 International Jazz Day in celebration of Samoa’s 60th Anniversary of Independence and was scheduled to close in American Samoa kicking off April 30th International Jazz Day to May 3rd.  

Unfortunately, the American Samoa leg of the Festival was cancelled at short notice due to the Emergency Measles Declaration announced in the Territory. The Navy band looks forward to a future opportunity to visit and perform in American Samoa.

SAMOAN  JAZZ ORIGINS

The significance of the US Navy band participation in this year’s festival recognized the history of the coming of Jazz  to the Samoan archipelago. American Samoa is the southernmost border of the US – and the birthplace of Jazz in the Pacific.

Samoa has its own unique jazz story which started in the 1930s gaining momentum during World War II in the Samoas as Pago Pago, American Samoa was the US military base for thousands of soldiers stationed in the Pacific.

The young Mavis Rivers sang with her father’s band who moved from Western Samoa. Moody Rivers became the singing mascot for the US soldiers stationed in Samoa and throughout the Pacific.

Other Samoan musicians, The Tuli Brothers, Willie Miller and Henry Hunkin, Siaki Laban, Dan Devoe (to name a few) blended the jazz styles of the time with the rhythms and tunes of Samoan music — to create Samoan renditions and local interpretations of western music. This has continued to today as Samoan jazz musicians locally and worldwide, create, compose and perform Jazz music.