Samoans are honouring father of 12 and late choral music pioneer Pulefaasisina Palauni “Brownie" Tuiasosopo, across social media after news of his death in Oregon was announced by family members early this week.
He was 82.
“The legacy he leaves behind is phenomenal,” wrote Ara Mahealani Lei Yandall on Facebook.
“All Samoan musicians are familiar with the legendary name Pulefa’asisina “Brownie” Tuiasosopo. We owe this man a great deal for his musical genius. Thank you for the music sir.”
His name is synonymous with music and the arts in American Samoa where Pulefaasisina established the American Samoa Arts Council Choir in 1972. Renowned for his vocal training techniques that set him apart in music, Pulefaasisina also served in government and in the higher education sector.
His vocal training techniques “shaped and redefined the sound of the American Samoa Arts Council Choir in the early 80s,” the American Samoa Community College said in a 2017 statement.
“Thanks to his previous training at the University of Oregon with Edwardo Zambara for voice and Max Risinger for choral music, Pulefaasisina changed the sound of choral music in all of Samoa,” said ASCC.
ASCC recognized Pulefasisina’s contributions to Samoan choral music in a 2017 ethnomusicology forum that was held in conjunction with the 2017 Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival.
“And you can still hear echoes of [his] work in many choirs today,” ASCC Music instructor Poe Mageo said at the time.
Pulefaasisina traced the beginning of his interest in western choral music to the time he spent attending high school at Punahou School in Hawai’i, where he graduated in 1956.
He began working for the American Samoa Government in 1962 as an assistant to Governor H. Rex Lee, a position he maintained through eight administrations.
In 1985, supported by Governor A.P. Lutali, Pulefaasisina accepted an offer to become Secretary General of the South Pacific Commission, whereupon he and his family relocated to the location of the Commission’s headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia.
Returning home in 1989, he joined ASCC as an institutional planner, with an additional mandate of developing an academic program focused on Samoa and the Pacific. That mandate became reality in 1992, with Pulefaasisina appointed as the first director of the ASCC Samoan and Pacific Studies (SAMPAC) program.
His last project before leaving ASCC in 2005 was to plan the transition of SAMPAC into its current form as the Samoan Studies Institute (SSI).
That same year, his county of Alataua selected Pulefaasisina as their senator for an incumbency that lasted until his full retirement in 2008.
Under his baton, the Arts Council Choir traveled extensively throughout the Pacific, representing American Samoa in numerous South Pacific Festivals, in Hawai’i and on the west coast United States.
The Arts Council Choir remains, to this day, the only choral group from American Samoa to ever sing with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.
“My heart aches for the loss of your father. He was a great man and an inspiration to every individual who crossed paths with him. I am forever grateful to God for such a rare opportunity to have had him as my mentor and music instructor through the American Samoa Arts Council,” school teacher Aitofi Solipo wrote on Facebook.
“He is home with our God to sing praises and glory to his Creator who had given him musical talents to share with others. Rest in Peace Pulefaasisina Tuiasosopo. You will forever be in the hearts of your people.”
Pulefaasisina’s son Kuki Tuiasosopo, an ethnomusicologist at ASCC, said his father taught him and his siblings “how to fight.”
“Your life is an example for us to follow especially for our children. Fly with the angels now my hero, and rest well in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ till that glorious day,” wrote Kuki.
“Life moves forward with God. It is what daddy would want.”
Pulefaasisina is survived by his wife of 55 years Tupu; his 12 children, grand children and great grandchildren.
Funeral details are pending.
Music here: https://youtu.be/_zeOjfmc3VU
More info here: http://www.amsamoa.edu/pressreleases/171103Ethnomusicology.html