28 Jul 2018

Live: Sianne Dougherty in session

From RNZ Music, 2:40 pm on 28 July 2018

Aspiring songstress Sianne Dougherty speaks with Yadana Saw about broken stereos and breaking stereotypes as a young Naenae mother pursuing a career in music.

Sianne Dougherty credits her singing talent to her family’s broken car stereo.

“My Mum used to play the drum on the steering wheel and used to make up songs. And that’s how I learnt to sing and harmonise and keep notes.”

Since her early teens Sianne Dougherty, of Kai Tahu and Tūwharetoa descent, has been chasing her dream to “share her music freely”.

She’s been a finalist on Māori Television’s talent show Homai te Pakipaki, opened for Katchafire and performed at many festivals and public events. In 2017 an impromptu cover of 'Haumanu' on TVNZ's Te Karere raised Sianne's profile further.

When she gets in front of a crowd and behind a microphone she commands power. The stage is hers and she will have your attention.

But in “real life” Sianne confesses that she is “actually a really shy person”. She tells the story of experiencing stage fright the first time she performed in front of a large audience.

“I froze up. I was so scared on stage but I had to be put in that position to grow as a person and [in] music.”

Sianne Dougherty screen grab

Sianne Dougherty screen grab Photo: screen grab

Sianne’s first single, ‘Azaelea’ is good indication of how she found her strength. The song, written and performed in te reo Māori, is dedicated to Sianne’s young daughter.

“I describe how she is growing like a beautiful flower because her names is a type of flower and a puna waiora - it’s a generational thing, so she’s spiritually and physically passed down all these thing from her tīpuna - her ancestors.

“It’s about being a parent and how you look at your children and the milestones they reach.”

Sianne became a mother at 16 and is firmly against the negative stereotypes that are placed on young Māori parents.

For her, motherhood  "doesn’t limit you as a person, it enhances you.”

Parenting has made Sianne “a lot more organised” in her pursuit of a career in music.

She clearly takes things in her stride. When talking about about songwriting, normally one of the most challenging processes for many artists, Sianne is completely unfazed.

“Honestly, we all have different problems in our lives and I just take them in and I just write them down. And that always becomes a tune and bang! You have a song.”

Her English language song, ‘Reach Out’ is a perfect example of her approach.

“I lost a couple of friends at school, as we all do, to suicide and actually murder. So this song is about valuing each other and don’t hold grudges.

“I think there is a lot of regret, you know ‘I should’ve done this, I could’ve done this’ when really we should have been giving our best to everyone anyway.

“I just imagine that they’re sitting in the choir singing along with my song. And they’re proud of me because for writing that song because it’s something that needs to be recognised and everyone needs to be aware of it.”

Music details

Artist: Sianne Dougherty
Songs: Azaelea, Reach Out
Composer: Sianne Dougherty
Album: RNZ Recording
Label: RNZ Recording

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