Until now, Geoff Sewell was best known for his role in Amici Forever, the pop/opera crossover group that soared to stardom in 2004 with their first album The Opera Band.
Sewell quit the group in 2006 to spend more time with his daughter Sienna, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of two.
Now, his first solo album Believe has gone gold in the first week of sales, a remarkable achievement given that the album was released by his own record label, Sewell Music, without the backing of a multi-national record giant.
What makes the album special is Sewell's commitment to raising awareness and money for children and families affected by autism.
One of the songs on the album, Sienna's Song, was written by his wife Simone, and all the proceeds from the song will go towards helping families affected by the disorder.
In a special event to raise public awareness of the condition, Sewell teamed up with Temepara George, the winner of TVNZ's Dancing With The Stars, to perform at Westfield Albany on Tuesday.
George, a former Silver Fern who now plays for the Northern Mystics, had chosen Autism New Zealand as her charity when she competed on the popular show.
She too has a special connection with the disorder - her first netball coach had an autistic nephew, and the CEO of the Mystics, Mark Cameron, has an autistic son.
"Autism New Zealand is not only for the children but for the parents. You don't realise what the families have to take on," she said.
Sewell's message is that there is hope for children with autism - there is treatment available and they can lead normal lives.
It's a message which seems to have resonated with the public. Sienna's autism specialist received over a hundred inquiries from worried parents in a single day after the album was released.
- NZ HERALD STAFF