When an all girl band hit the stage on AROB day with their version of Sharzy’s “Meri Buka,” the crowd responded like they should.
Led by mother of two, Dianne Biaun Lavi, the girls belted out their rendition, calling it “Mangi Buka” instead.
Now, all over Facebook, the girls who pulled together to do the performance are still reeling from that one live gig which is perhaps one of their biggest achievements so far.
“The girls are still on a high,” Dianne says. “They are still talking about it.”
Dianne, 31 from Yangoru, East Sepik, works as an electronics instructor at Port Moresby’s Don Bosco Technological Institute (DBTI). She plays guitar and is the oldest member of the group.
The daughter of an ex-soldier, she was born in Wewak and played with church youth groups and school bands in high school.
The band members are a collection of DBTI students. Each influenced by reggae and Pacific infusions of reggae music.
Two of the band members – Lead singer, Patrina Kabonga and keyboardist Helen Dapue, previously took part in the John Wong Tribute concert.
This year, the group came fifth out of 13 bands that competed in the ‘DBTI Battle of the Bands.’
“That was when we met Mereani Masani who was a judge at the time.”
The group had long been rehearsing Mereani’s newest, “Bossman Blo Lewa.”
A reggae song in Tok Pisin with an infectious, intoxicating rhythm, it carries with it a strong anti-violence message. It describes the love of a Papua New Guinean woman for her man and the distrust that can destroy it.
This song was the surprise for those who attended AROB day.
After playing their version of Meri Buka, lead singer, Patrina Kambonga, yelled out; “i gat sampla Bossman stap o?…” When the crowd responded she went on; “Mereani, yu stap we?”
Nobody knew Mereani Masani was in attendance.
“I think some people thought she was just playing when she said that,” Dianne said.
“Mereani was not listed on the program so nobody knew. Then when Mereani walked on the stage… ples bagarap!”
From the performance, nobody knew about the battle against the nervousness and anxiety that the girls went through before the performance with one of the finest artists out of Morobe.
“We had only one practice on the Friday before AROB day. They were all nervous. I just said, We can do it.
“Then When Mereani came, they played and she sang. She is such a powerful singer. She said, ok girls let’s do this for Papua New Guinea.”
While they did have a boost of confidence, the success of Mereani’s Bossman blo Lewa” was hinging on the bands timekeepers, drummer, Abigail Maiha and bassist, Lisa Ainui.
Their skill in the parts that kept up the rhythm and the bass fills for Mereani’s toasting (Jamaican style, lyrical chanting), were crucial if it was going to rock the crowd.
“If you listen to the song, there’s a part where the drummer stops then Mereani comes in and transposes to a higher note. We were all thinking about that part.”
The girls killed it!
For this girl group of students and teacher, their band is part of a bigger message.
“I hope we can inspire young girls in a small way to break the barriers and come out. I am a strong believer that Papua New Guinean women can work together.
“Life is too short, if you have talent, you have to use it.
“That… is the vision!”