With Father’s Day yesterday, it is the perfect time to talk about Songs for A Bigger Island (Sunday 11th September, 5.50pm). In this one hour documentary, director Costa Botes captures Will Crummer recording his album Shoebox Lovesongs - The Rarotongan Music of Will Crummer; a musical collaboration between Will and his well-known daughter Annie Crummer.
In the 1950’s Will was a singing sensation in the Cook Islands, and when he moved to New Zealand in the late 60’s he brought with him a shoebox filled with traditional songs, party tunes and romantic numbers from the Pacific Islands. Recently he entered Roundhead Studios with a small group of musicians, including Annie, to record his comeback album. I caught up with Annie and Will for a quick chat about their experience of working together.
How did it go working together? Was it seamless, any surprises?
Will: Our only challenge was choosing which songs to record because there were hundreds in that ‘Shoebox’.
Annie . . . and dad could instantly sing them all. It’s been a privilege to loyally assist my father with this most beautiful piece.
How wonderful, not only to have this collection of songs recorded on an album, but to have filmed a documentary making it. How did the documentary-side of this project come about?
Annie: The doco was an absolute must, suggested by (Producers) Arthur Baysting and Nick Bollinger. They were blown away when they heard dad sing and also when they met the man, himself. We all delighted in listening to stories of my father growing up in Rarotonga, being the baby of 11 kids and how much he loved my grandmother - she gave him his spirited voice.
What does it mean to the two of you, to have completed this album?
Will: I always dreamed of recording again.
Annie: He has never lost it, he usually sings when he’s mowing the lawns and also in his car.
Will: I’m so happy my children have helped me make this album. And Arthur and Nick have been sooooo kind, I’m very grateful.
What kind of response have you received from the album? Has it been released in the Cook Islands?
Annie: Certainly, critically dad’s cd has been praised and respected - that’s rare! This is an honest album and you can’t go wrong with that.
Will: Oh, I hope our cuzzies aren’t burning copies over there!
Annie: We’re planning a homecoming show for dad in Rarotonga early next year.
Annie, obviously you got your beautiful voice from your father, did you also get his sense of style? William, you must have been one of the better dressed characters to have passed through Roundhead Studios!
Will & Annie: Hahaahahahaahaa!!!
Annie: Yep, dad’s got his own style, alright, I’m nowhere near as cool as he is! He’s dah real deal, and mum, she’s super stylie too!
Will: I look after myself, I like running, I like to breathe properly.
Annie, can you tell me what the most valuable lesson you have learnt from your father?
Annie: Believe me when I say, I’m very shy …. but if my father had not told me as a child to “Whack it out!” (vocally), then For Today probably would’ve been a different song.
And William, how does your daughter inspire you?
Will: She’s a good kid! Hahahaaaahhaaa!!!
READ MORE ABOUT THE FILM AND SEE WHEN IT'S NEXT SCHEDULED