Kiwi singer's mini-me

Sharing the spotlight with her daughter on TV was a high note for singer Sara Jane

By Aroha Awarau
Award-winning singer Sara Jane Elika's dream came true when she became the host of Soul Sessions, a gospel music show.
And the experience was made even more special for the NZ Samoan mother-of-four when her equally talented 12-year-old daughter Micayla-Jane joined her during filming, and made her very own TV debut singing alongside her mother.
"It was a very magical moment for me – a mother and daughter coming together, and having my child seeing what I do for a dream job," says Sara Jane as she glances at Micayla-Jane during the Weekly photoshoot with a sense of pride.
"There's something very magical about singing, especially in our Samoan culture. It's part of our everyday lives. To be able to share this with my family and to teach my daughter in this way is very special."
'It inspires me and teaches me that I can do anything, just like her'
Micayla-Jane, who is in Year 8 at Baradene College in Auckland, says it was a privilege to be involved in Soul Sessions, which showcases the top gospel musicians in Aotearoa, with each episode concluding with a live duet with Sara Jane.
"Ever since my mother was my age, she always wanted to host her own music show. Now that she has realised that dream, it inspires me and teaches me that I can do anything, just like her," asserts Micayla-Jane.
Sara Jane, 40, is also a mum to three sons – twins Lafaele and Isaia, eight, and Antonio, six – and says she inherited her love and passion for singing from her mother Felicity, who was a music teacher and choirmaster.
Realising that her children also have the gift of singing, Sara Jane wants to give them the same nurturing and opportunities.
"People talk about how musicians and singers can be divas in this industry," Sara Jane tells. "But New Zealand is too small for that. Everybody knows everybody. You've got to have a good attitude and treat everybody with respect."
Singing together on Soul Sessions.
The TV host has been a stable in the Pasifika entertainment scene ever since she was a teenager. She's won multiple music awards, released three studio albums and has toured the world with her music.She actually got her big break when she appeared on '90s hit kids' TV talent show McDonald's Young Entertainers, hosted by Jason Gunn. She was only 14 years old and reached the semi-finals singing a Lauryn Hill song.
"I was just a child and I remember being so nervous. It was my first time on a plane and getting into this music business. My mother was there on set to calm my nerves."
Although Sara Jane forged a successful career in music, she also graduated with a law degree and was admitted to the bar. Today, she juggles running her own consultancy firm with her husband Leaupepe Ta'ala Ralph Elika, with producing and hosting Soul Sessions.
When telling her daughter about the music business, she doesn't sugar-coat how hard it is to succeed in the entertainment industry, and encourages Micayla-Jane to also have a back-up plan.
"Success comes in different ways," she explains. "For me, I didn't want to push it on Micayla-Jane if she didn't want to sing. I wanted to let her know that you have to enjoy it, first and foremost, otherwise you won't put in the effort."
Sara Jane and husband Leaupepe with their kids (from left) Isaia, Antonio, Micayla-Jane and Lafaele.
Mother and daughter regularly sing together at Christmas in the Park events and at their church. But singing on Soul Sessions is a new experience for them.
"In the entertainment business, there's a lot of transferable skills I learned while I was training as a lawyer, like always be prepared and always build good relationships with your clients and people that you're working with.
"It's great that Micayla-Jane and my sons can see that I'm more than just a mum," she enthuses. "They can see what I do in my day job and what I do for my creative passions. When I come home, it's back to the family dynamic, with all of our boys running around, and I put my mum hat right back on."
Her three boys also love to sing and can't wait to perform with their mother on TV.
"They are always asking why they can't be on the show," says Sara Jane.
"I tell them that they have to wait their turn. Micayla-Jane is the eldest and she is representing them."
Micayla-Jane, who has no problems belting out tunes by musical divas like Whitney Houston, plans to juggle a career in music and medicine when she finishes school.
"I love watching my mum on stage and hearing her sing," she shares. "Her voice always uplifts people around her and I want to do the same."
  • undefined: Aroha Awarau

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