Manawatu youth rocking the Globe in Palmerston North
Manawatu youth gathered at Palmerston North's Globe Theatre in a quest to rock judges socks off in the regional heats of the 2017 Smokefree Rockquest.
Rockquest founder and director Glenn Common said it wasn't all about winning. Friday's heats were a "supportive atmosphere" for musicians to find their feet performing and learn skills they can apply throughout their life.
"[For example], when you have five people in a room, not all of them are going to see things the same way, but you still have to come together and perform."
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Kapiti College singer/song writer Peyton Morete, 14, was the first to enter the Manawatu heats and the first to get all her paperwork done.
Common said Morete was a "seasoned Rockquest veteran" and after five years at the competition, she seemed to always be a step ahead and often knew what was going on before Common himself.
Morete said writing music was all about finding your voice and expressing feelings too hard to convey with words alone.
"If you're too scared or nervous to talk to someone, you can sing to them. And if it's your own song you can put a lot more feeling into it."
After each performance, the musicians popped back stage for a debrief with New Zealand Music Commission mentor Priya Sami.
Bailey Eaton-Palmer, from Cornerstone Christian School, said he'd got a lot out of the mentoring aspect of the Rockquest.
He spoke to Sami right after he finished performing a deeply personal song about the importance of family in tough times called Count On Me. "It wasn't just about my performance, she gave me great advice about how to build my career from here."
Usually, only 12 acts would head on to the finals, but this year a new round of heats in Wairarapa drew off a lot of performers who'd normally enter the Manawatu heats, so all 15 competitors will go to the regional finals at The Regent on Broadway next month.