Big break at the Roots

• Odette Mercy and her soul atomics. Photo supplied | ‘Ofa Benness

• Odette Mercy and her soul atomics. Photo supplied | ‘Ofa Benness

A LOCAL unsigned band will play at this weekend’s West coast Blues ‘n’ Roots festival after winning a breakthrough act competition.

Odette Mercy and her soul atomics saw off scores of others Perth acts to secure a spot in Saturday’s Blues ‘n’ Roots.

The band will now play in front of thousands on the main stage in Fremantle, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Robert Plant and Chris Isaak.

Lead singer ‘Ofa Benness says she is “nervously excited”.

“We’re used to playing small venues like The Bird on William Street so this is quite a step up,” she laughs.

The band, which formed in 2008, is comprised predominantly of WAAPA graduates who live in Leederville and North Perth.

They have managed to eke out a living playing in different incarnations, including a stripped-down jazzy trio and a trumpet-blaring sextet.

For the Roots’ gig they will bolster the line-up with saxophones.

Benness says she learned to sing by listening to her Tongolese parents.

“When I was child, they would sing these beautiful a cappella harmonies and I used to join in,” she says.

“I’m pretty much a belter, not a gentle singer; but everything I sing comes from the heart.”

The band played its first gig in a Leederville bar.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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