Nine bands contested the 2021 Battle of the Teen Bands at Kerikeri's Turner Centre on Friday night, and two from Kaitaia's Abundant Life School shone brightly.
The Years 5-8 combo Soundtrack made their public debut before a standing room only audience, but it was the senior band, KALS Collective, that brought the house down, winning the overall title, along with the best drummer and best bass player awards courtesy of Rogan Nukunuku and Kees Cherrington respectively.
Abundant Life music teacher Opeloge Ah Sam was very impressed.
"Praise God for the gifts he's given our kids," he said.
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Principal Mark Tan agreed, but shared the credit with their teacher.
"Dr Ah Sam is passionate and won't settle for average," he said.
"He's giving our students opportunities that most would never dream possible, and ensuring that their confidence, identity and potential are realised 100 per cent."
All nine bands, from Kaitaia to Whangārei, performed well, presenting what one critic described as a mind-blowing display of musical skill.
Hosted by youth mentoring programme Be Free, the competition was open to all Northland youth bands, which were judged on musicianship, composition/interpretation and entertainment value, with extra points awarded for original songs.
A huge lift in the calibre of both song-writing and performance this year meant the judges - a musical theatre singer, a successful US musician and a Be Free graduate - had a hard time choosing a winner, but eventually settled on KALS Collective.