Managing musical success In a small island environment: Vanessa Quai and the Vanuatu music scene

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Hayward, P, Morrow, G 2007, 'Managing musical success In a small island environment: Vanessa Quai and the Vanuatu music scene', in I Novaczek (ed.), Refereed papers from ISIC 3: the third International Conference on Small Island Cultures, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, 29 June -2 July, Small Island Cultures Research Initiative, Sydney, NSW.

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Vanuatu, formerly known as the New Hebrides (during the period of its Anglo-French colonial condominium) comprises a group of 83 islands in the South West Pacific, north east of New Caledonia and north west of Fiji. Vanuatu is home to a rich Melanesian culture where more than 100 different languages are spoken (in addition to the national pidgin language bislama). There is a French and British influence from the colonial days, and a strong Christian heritage. The majority (94%) of Vanuatu's population is indigenous Melanesian (ni-Vanuatu). The remainder comprise Europeans, reflecting the colonial heritage; Vietnamese, from the days of indentured labourers; Chinese; and other Pacific Islanders. Of the current population (circa 205,000) over 40% is under 15. Many ni-Vanuatu are engaged in subsistence activities and the cash economy is little developed outside of the capital city of Port Vila (on Efate island). This paper examines the career of young ni-Vanuatu singer Vanessa Quai. In particular, it outlines the management strategies that have brought her success in national, regional and international popular music markets from a base in Vanuatu. We identify that her family!s efficient exploitation of international cultural/commercial networks has been a key plank of her career to date, and one that merits attention as a strategy for other small island nation performers trying to achieve commercial success beyond their domestic markets.