You often hear people say they are living the dream. But one South Auckland musician was actually inspired by a dream.
Ed Ru, lead singer of Sweet & Irie, is that man.
“I was in a really deep sleep and dreamed I was singing on stage with Tina Turner,” Ed told Truth.
“I could feel the vibe from the crowd – I don’t know if they were cheering for me or for Tina – and it was so real.
“I woke up the next morning and decided that music was what I wanted to do.”
That was in 2005. That same year, Ed enrolled in a contemporary music class. He went on to win Battle of the Bands making 2005 a year to remember for Ed.
“It was the first time I’d written and performed an original song in front of an audience,” he recalls.
“It was an amazing feeling and confirmed that music was where I wanted to be.”
The song he won BOTB with was titled ‘Smoking is Bad For You’.
“It was the SmokeFree battle so I wrote a song about the effects of smoking,” Ed said.
Soon after, he teamed up with friends and family from the same South Auckland street and Sweet & Irie was born.
“We’d get together most afternoons and play for the kids in the street and anyone else who wanted to listen.”
Then life took another unexpected turn.
“We were performing at a men’s event out west (Auckland).
“Aaradhna was there, and so was Brotha D. Straight. After the gig, he signed me to Dawn Raid.
“My lucky break.”
Ed, as you can probably guess by the dreadlocks, is inspired by the ‘Rasta Man’ Bob Marley.
“It’s all about sharing the love and telling stories that will inspire people.
“You don’t have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to have a positive and fulfilling life,” he said.
“I use my music to show people they can have a good life.”
Typical of that is a line from the second track on Sweet & Irie’s new album – Irie Inspiration – due out on October 12.
“The love that comes from you teaches the world they can show love too!”
Born in South Auckland to Cook Island parents, Ed had his battles growing up and could easily have chosen a different path.
“Until you make a positive change you don’t realise how far the negative perceptions of South Auckland drive you down,” he said.
“Because you live there ... live that way ... it’s what you become accustomed to.
“I thank the Lord every day that he got me through my youth without putting a rope around my neck.
“That is just one gift he has given me. I’ve also been all around New Zealand and overseas, have been happily married for 24 years and have five wonderful children.”
The eldest is 14 (going on 21) and the youngest just four months.
“I’m a stay at home dad as well as a musician.”
The family are right behind Ed musically, often jamming with him and singing along when his songs are played on the radio.
“My five-year-old is learning the drums and loving it,” he said.
Ed believes in giving positive vibes to all – especially young people.
“Whatever I’m asked to do for our youth I’ll do,” he said.
“I show them the love and tell them they can turn their lives around.
“Love is what the band and its name is all about.
“In Jamaica, when people are asked how they feel they answer ‘irie’.
“It means ‘nice, fine, beautiful’ ... so ‘Sweet & Beautiful’.”
by Dave McPherson