The Unsung Heroes tell stories from New Zealand’s settler past in finely crafted theatre, music, and song, with old newspaper articles & Poems that deftly introduce each song’s central character. A photographic slideshow of historic images as accompaniment, with gorgeously evocative music and words, and Elliott’s old-style radio diction, sharp timing, and dry humour all predictive of ways we have come to see ourselves.
Peter Elliott - Narrator. Cameron Bennett - Vocals & Dobro Guitar. Sonia Wilson - Vocals. Chris Priestley - Vocals, Guitar. Nigel Gavin - 7 String Guitar.
Chris Priestley… NZ Historian, fine musician, singer, songwriter, and originator of the Unsung Heroes. Over the last 40 years, he has recorded original music compositions and sung songs about Aotearoa New Zealand. Three CDs were made Tui Folk Music Award Finalists. Chris is one of New Zealand’s most well-known cafe entrepreneurs, co-founder of Real Groovy Records & several at the heart of’’ Auckland-based Café/Music Venues including Java Jive, Kerouacs, Atomic, which was rebranded Café One2One. His evenings over the last 25 years at Atomic/One2One are renowned for his genius mix of respected national and travelling international musicians, and the development of many other burgeoning musicians and singers. These flourishing events there included Thursday Gathering, Friday Night Jazz with Peter Wood and Sunday’s Young Musicians.
Cameron Bennett… is a storyteller. From his days as a cadet newspaper reporter to author and Foreign Correspondent he’s explored the stories and newsmakers behind the headlines, both here and around the world. Journalism is his day job – he currently produces a weekly tv current affairs programme and is director/writer of the ongoing NZ Land Wars documentaries featured on RNZ online. New Zealand colonial history is in his blood; from the Wairau Affray to the Western Front, his forebears have borne witness – miners, gamblers, union organisers, shopkeepers, and servicemen. Music is also in his blood. He is a singer-songwriter, plays guitar, lap steel guitar and collaborates with Chris Priestley in bringing to life the characters and stories of our past - the quirky and macabre - that shaped who we are today.
Nigel Gavin… is a multi-award-winning musician. Initially a visitor from Long Island, New York, Now a resident, Nigel has long been a featured player in New Zealand’s music scene, particularly in Auckland, playing 7 string guitars, banjo, mandolin, bass - indeed, almost anything with strings - with the Nairobi Trio, The Fondue set, the Jews Brothers, the Blue Bottom Stompers, Lorina Harding, Wayne Gillespie, Whirimako Black, Jonathan Besser & Bravura among others. Nigel created and mentored the multi-guitar Gitbox Rebellion. Gavin is a guitarist with remarkable versatility who is very well-respected by other players around the world, and who excites audiences with jaw-dropping solos. He continues to work in New Zealand, Europe, Australia, and the United States. (Pandemic Permitting).
Peter Elliott (ONZM) … has been integral to the development in the unique creativities of New Zealand theatre, film, and television, as actor, producer, presenter, and advocate for other actors. He trained at the Court Theatre in Christchurch and appeared in more than 60 TV dramas, over a dozen documentaries, various films, and more than 80 plays, musicals, and opera throughout the country. Peter was nominated Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor several times, and won for Until Proven Innocent, was nominated for Best Presenter twice, with Captains Log and winning with Explorers for TV One. He has a passionate interest in NZ history and has been thrilled to be involved with Unsung Heroes over the last few years.
Sonia Wilson… is “a living, breathing human Womad Festival”. Born and raised in Paris, France, UK-educated and now based in Auckland, the Franco-American singer, songwriter, and musician had a dizzying musical apprenticeship. A member of gospel and Acapella choirs from a young age, her music has taken her from the streets of Paris, across the Kenyan savannah, through remote Himalayan villages, and then ’home’ to New Zealand. When she is not performing, Sonia teaches, sessions in individual and group ukulele, guitar, and voice.