From Subway to stardom
Wellington singer T K Paradza moved to New Zealand six years ago from strife-torn Zimbabwe. Now he's sitting close to top of the Kiwi charts as part of the boy band Titanium. Paul Easton reports.
More than a year ago, T K Paradza was studying marketing at Wellington's Victoria University and working part-time at Subway. He was plugging away at a singing career, performing around the city. He released his music online, but a record deal was elusive.
That all changed after he made a last-minute decision to audition for boy band Titanium. "I wasn't even going to go down, but my girlfriend talked me into it."
T K made the band, and the band has begun to make him.
"It's a great platform," he says.
Titanium's first single, Come on Home, debuted at No 1 last year, and went platinum within a few weeks. It was joined soon after by a cover of Jason Mraz's I Won't Give Up and then a second single, Sky, making Titanium the first New Zealand band to have three songs in the New Zealand Top 40 at the same time.
"It's been pretty crazy," Parazda, 27, says. The band has played a relentless schedule of concerts to screaming fans.
"You never get used to it, but it's fun to meet new people, and interact with them on Facebook and Twitter.
The Dominion Post first meet Paradza in 2010 when he volunteered to talk about growing up in Zimbabwe, which had just been ranked the worst country on the planet by a new United Nations report. He remembered the crime and the rampant inflation of his home country, although, as the son of a judge, he was shielded from the worst of it.
"We were robbed, they came and stole our TV, even our couch. The violence was a main concern. People were so poor and they had to get money from somewhere.
"It didn't affect me as much as some. It was hard to leave home."
His father, Benjamin, was charged with corruption and perverting the course of justice, in a case regarded by independent commentators as an example of the Zimbabwean Government interfering with the judiciary.
After fleeing to New Zealand to set up a new home for his family, Benjamin Paradza was convicted in his absence.
Now, T K Paradza wants to visit his homeland and family, especially his grandparents.
"I haven't been back in six years, and they're not getting any younger. So hopefully when things settle down a bit."
Already Zimbawean media has began to pick up on his success.
For now, TK's studies are on hold, though he hopes to pick them again in time. "It's better money than Subway, though we're not rich at all. It's always a struggle for starting musicians."