Sharing and creating music for children reaps many rewards. It is the reaction of children and their parents smiling faces which makes creating and sharing music so much more enjoyable.
As a father of 8 children and an entertainer for over 30 years (his first tour was to Surfers Paradise in 1982), Jay Laga’aia recognises the value of music in a child’s life and quickly learn what grabs their attention and imagination. Music is present in many aspects of a child’s world, with many parents introducing it from birth to calm and soothe their unsettled babies. We do it unconsciously. Whether we are humming while working or regurgitating a song, once sung to us by a parent. The sonic tapestry that is part of our everyday life help inform our children of where they are, who they are and where they are going. From my experience as a father as well as an entertainer, I have learnt that music, coupled with physical interactions, expresses love and joy, allowing children to engage, interact and use their imagination in a positive way.
What role does music play in your life?
Music is my identity. I communicate through sonic statements and I am never far from a musical instrument.
What are some of your career highlights?
Some of my career highlights include, being a lead in Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas). Lead in Disney’s The Lion King. The Wizard in the musical Wicked. Starwars. Most recently co creating my children’s show, Jays Jungle, and guesting on a show aimed at the hearing impaired called Sally and Possum. By far one of my most satisfying career highlights has to be working on Playschool for the past 16 years.
What is the most rewarding part about performing live to children?
Some of the most rewarding aspects to being a children’s entertainer is never being a stranger to an Australian child. They all know you. Also having people approach you with stories of how their sick child loves my music etc. That’s what you don’t get in the mainstream performances.
You are a father of eight children- what is your favourite part about being a dad?
The best part of being a dad is seeing how your encouragement can benefit your children and also realising that it’s NOT about you. My job is give my kids the life skills to enable them to survive in this world once I’m gone.
What has been your favourite adventure in your life?
Creating and producing my first TV show. Jays Jungle is a labour of love. Created from a simple comment from another producer friend of mine. Monica O’brien and I worked on another children’s show called Larry the Lawnmower and she brought her daughter, Grace, along to one of my concerts. After the show we were talking and she said, You should turn this into a show. With Monica’s help, that idea became a reality and we are now looking at preproduction for the 3rd series of Jays Jungle.
Who is your role model?
My role model is my wife, Sandie. She is a full time teacher, (Maths and English) She coaches netball and attends every production that my children are in. She drives kids to soccer (4 kids), swimming (2 kids), Netball (4 kids including gala days in different cities), Ruby league (1 kid) and then there are the musical performances that at least four of my kids are involved in. She is also my devils advocate and with all of this, she still has time in her day to tell me what I haven’t cleaned in the house.
What should fans expect to see at your upcoming tour- Jay’s Jungle Live in Concert – Starring Jay Laga’aia?
Fans should expect the fun of a live show in the jungle. Jays Jungle originated from a live show. I want to bring back the call and response that is so vital in my live shows. We will utilise the sound and lighting as well as our children’s imagination to bring you a fun pack rumble in the jungle show.
How much preparation goes into making a TV series?
All the preparation for a Jays Jungle TV shoot is huge and starts months before the first camera is switched on. There are 65 x 30 minute scripts to be written and my music producer, Mark Walmsley and I also sit down to write any addition new music for the 3rd series. Our art department will start making props as soon as the scripts are finished with enough lead time before we even begin to shoot and then we cast our Jungle Crew kids for some of the newer segments. So as you see there is a lot of work to do.
What makes the Jungle Crew so wonderful?
The Jungle Crew are so important because kids love seeing kids. Having the Jungle Crew being able to help build props and dance and play really makes the island come alive and enables us to get our message across in play and dance.
You can catch Jay Laga’aia in his Jay’s Jungle Live in Concert! tour starting September 2nd. For details visit pvevents.com.au