The music of Apakuki Nalawa has something of a cult following across the islands, but expect his 161 worldwide followers on Twitter to soon grow exponentially from a chance meeting with a Hollywood celebrity who is almost as popular in Fiji as she is back home in Australia.
The Fijian guitarist had waited patiently on board as the sun started to set before Rebel Wilson with entourage in tow unexpectedly appeared.
“I only found out who I was playing for when she boarded the cruise boat,” Nalawa said.
“She’s well-known in Fiji.”
View this post on Instagram
The surprise came after Tourism Fiji hired the Sydney comedian to promote getting visitor numbers back up after 18 months of Covid-19 travel interruption.
Nalawa, who had been approached to serenade a Wilson during an idyllic one-and-a-half-hour boat cruise, felt “pretty stoked” before adding that “my phone’s been buzzing”.
The identity of his target of affections may have been a mystery until the last moment, but the local farmer was not going to pass up the offer.
“I travelled from the capital to the west, ‘bout (an) three-hour drive, hopped on the boat for another two hours to reach the destination,” he said.
Once the shock wore off, the professional performance turned into something more personal.
That’s when they sat and had a few drinks, some canapes, sang a bit, danced a lot, and enjoyed the typically Fijian sunset.
“She’s lovely and very down to earth,” Nalawa said.
“We had a chat midway through the gig and after the gig.”
The serenade included two of Nalawa’s original songs.
He stopped to explain the meanings and the inspiration behind them.
Wilson had no hesitation to tag the social media enthusiast me in three of her Instagram stories, and the next morning downloaded his music while posting a song with on three social channels.
“Discovering happiness and soooo much more,” she tweeted.