Dad to perform at daughter's celebratory concert

By Lindy Laird

1 comment
Sita Newman is in the final stages of terminal breast cancer. She talks to Lindy Laird about her emotional reunion with her family and why she rejected modern medical cancer treatment

Sita Newman with her half-brother Jivan. Photo / John Stone
Sita Newman with her half-brother Jivan. Photo / John Stone

Sita Newman is 36 years old and has nearly lived out her life - this lifetime, she says.

Sita is dying because of breast cancer, a condition she knew was life-threatening when she said no to interventionist medical treatment several years ago.

In recent weeks she has come to terms with her earlier decisions and come to appreciate this strange and often frightening stage in her life. It's been a time of soul searching and "counting my blessings; now it's nice to be able to let go."

A life lived well is worth celebrating, Sita believes.

On Saturday, an evening concert in Whangarei will offer a tribute more than a farewell to Sita. And she will be there, too, enjoying the company of people she loves, listening to music that touches her soul and is part of her heritage.

Sita's father has come across the world to be by her side. An acclaimed South African musician, Steve Newman will play his daughter into her next journey, his weeping guitar helping tuck her into some gentle place between Heaven and Earth.

And because Sita believes death is not the entire end - "the soul is eternal" - her father's concert will be called Hasta la Vista, the Spanish term meaning "until we meet again". Among some difficult conversations Sita has had lately is one about what form a memorial service might take when the time comes.

"I said I wanted music and dancing, I wanted it to be about life. Someone suggested a celebration while I was still here to enjoy it, and it went from there," she said. "But it was originally meant to be a more intimate thing than what it turned out to be."

The idea for a celebratory concert on this side of life will also help Steve Newman, his wife Jean and one of their sons Jivan fund their short-notice trip to Sita side and help Sita meet some needs.

Sita Newman with her half-brother Jivan, who arrived from South Africa this week to visit his terminally ill sister and Sita's father Steve Newman. Photo / John Stone
Sita Newman with her half-brother Jivan, who arrived from South Africa this week to visit his terminally ill sister and Sita's father Steve Newman. Photo / John Stone

Either solo or collaborating with other artists, most often with the band Tananas, Newman has put out 20 albums and is well known among Womad and world music audiences.

It has been written of him that on stage "his persona is as gentle and understated as a meditating monk, evident in moments of his delicate technique. His skill, however, reaches the furthest corners of the universe. His rhythmic percussive style mesmerises one into a journey of vast proportions where almost every emotional texture is visited. Sometimes you want to dance, sometimes you want to cry. Without a doubt you'll be moved on various levels".

Many people don't know Sita is very sick. She thinks she might hide backstage so "people won't come up to me wanting deep conversations, or being sad. I don't want it to be a night where everyone is talking about heavy things. I want it to be joyful."

Limited tickets to the concert at the Riverbank Centre, Reyburn Lane, from 6.30pm to 9.00pm, are for sale at Himalayan Trading Post, at $20.

- Northern Advocate

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