24-year-old Tafuna High School teacher Eden Brown was named the 2014 Le Leo o Amerika Samoa Season 2 winner this past Wednesday, beating out 23 other talented local musicians during nine weeks of singing battles. The event was hosted by the Dept. of Youth and Women’s Affairs, in coordination with Bluesky Communications, the major sponsor. [photo: B. Chen]

Tafuna High School history teacher Eden Brown is the territory’s newest singing sensation, after she was named the 2014 Le Leo o Amerika Samoa Season 2 winner this past Wednesday.
Le Leo kicked off over two months ago with 24 contestants who battled it out every week for the past nine weeks. Those who were able to witness the program in person at the Fale Laumei or from home in either Tutuila and Manu’a had the chance to see the singers grow and become better each week.
Wednesday’s finale did not disappoint, with each team getting the opportunity to perform a group song that had the crowd cheering from beginning to end.
For the competition, the 24 contestants were divided into four teams, led by a quartet of coaches that included Elijah Tavai, Francis Vaivao, Shevon Matai and Emily Afo.
A separate panel of judges, comprised of five locals with background in music, were selected to rate each singer throughout the competition. The judges’ score cards accounted for 50% of the final score while 20% came from the coaches and the remaining 30% came from the results of text voting.
During the finale only six singers remained: Tolu Aulava, Eden Brown, Marcus Maiava, Rosetta Maiava, Nelson Tualevao, and Herthalina Aumoeualogo.
Although Team Francis accounted for half (3) of the top 6 singers, it was Team Matai’s lone singer that took off with the top prize.
The evening started off with an opening prayer offered by Rev. Iakopo Seumalo of the CCCAS Laulii Church, and concluded with a special performance by Bluesky Communications Chief Operating Officer (COO) Rep. Puleleiite Tufele Li’amatua who performed his rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” after making it a point to let everyone know that this is the first time he will ever be singing solo, in public.
During the group performances, Team Francis got things started with their version of Gloria Estefan’s “Rhythm of the Night”, followed by Team Panda and her crew giving everyone in the audience a taste of Earth, Wind and Fire.
Team Matai came out strong, with her singers decked out in glittery formal wear singing “We Are the World”.
The final group to perform was Team Elijah.
Prior to their performances, DYWA Deputy Director Tapumanaia Galu Satele, who has served as the host for Le Leo during both seasons, described Team Elijah as being the “most diverse and inexperienced singers” of the bunch but nonetheless, he added, “they have shown the most development”.
Team Elijah performed a remix of songs that started off with a mellow ballad, “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” followed by the more upbeat “The Way You Make Me Feel” by the late Michael Jackson, and closing it out with the late Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”.
Before the top prizes were awarded, the names of the eliminated singers were called, and each of them received a gift bag provided by Bluesky and DYWA, which included over $100 worth of goodies from a 4GB flash drive and t-shirt to a bag and an activated cellular phone.
The coaches didn’t go home empty handed. They each received gift baskets from Bluesky Communications and DYWA, including a brand new notebook tablet.
For being the winning coach this year, Shevon Matai was presented with prizes worth $600, including a brand new Samsung Galaxy Tablet III.
Only the top four singers were awarded cash prizes.
The two who took 5th and 6th place, Marcus Maiava, and Tolu Aulava, respectively, received prizes valued at $200
Marcus spent the majority of the competition singing reggae tunes and with each passing week, he always showed improvement.
But it was Tolu’s descent to 6th place that came as a shock to the majority of Le Leo fans who have followed the show since it started. Her strong voice, sassy personality and ability to hold high notes surely made her a crowd favorite and — in most people’s opinion — a definite shoe-in for the top three.
But this was not the case. Aulava only received 285 points from the judges and coaches while her 166 text votes added only 10 points, bringing her final score to 295 — a total of 60 points behind Eden Brown’s winning score of 355 points (325 points from the judges and coaches, and 30 points from her 476 text votes).
At fourth place, with a total score of 309 points was Herthalina Aumoeualogo whose sultry voice and big smile won the hearts of many. She got even more attention after she came out one night as Shania Twain singing “I Feel Like Woman”. For her efforts, Herthalina went home with $500 cash.
Third place went to Nelson Tualevao who, although blind, swept everyone off their feet with his positive attitude and love of music, as displayed every time he took the stage. During the finale, he didn’t hold back, singing and dancing as the crowd cheered him on. With his 313 total points, Tualevao took off with $1,000 cash.
Second place honors went to Rosetta Maiava who Tapumanaia often referred to as “the small girl with the big voice”. Throughout the competition, Rosetta showed that she was a force to be reckoned with. One week she belted out a tune by Beyonce and the following week, she made it fun and lively with her rendition of “Oh Baby Give Me One More Chance” by the Jackson 5.
Her parents and family members were present every week to support her and it wasn’t long before she became a fan favorite. As the first runner up, Rosetta took home  gifts from Bluesky Communications and DYWA, including $1,500 cash.
After she was named the grand prize winner, Eden Brown said, “It is an honor and privilege to hold the title of Le Leo.” DYWA Deputy Director Pa’u Roy Ausage told the audience that they anticipate hosting a third season of Le Leo next year.
Before the evening ended, Rep. Puleleiite Tufele, on behalf of Bluesky Communications, presented a check of $31,000 to the DYWA Deputy Directors and said, “Bluesky Communications is proud to assist and help in the development of our local youth. It is a privilege and honor for us to be a part of this”.
Bluesky Communications was the exclusive sponsor of Le Leo o Amerika Samoa Season 2.
Puleleiite encouraged Tapumanaia to open up next year’s Le Leo competition to older people, who have expressed interest in trying out for the competition.
When contacted for comments yesterday, Eden Brown told Samoa News that when she entered the Le Leo competition, she didn’t think she was going to win “because I knew there was going to be a lot of strong competition.”
The 24-year-old from Ili’ili who holds a bachelors degree in communications and political science from UH Hilo is in her second year of teaching for the Dept. of Education. She says she plans to further her education someday, in the field of law, although her short term goal is to record a CD.
Eden said her triumph in Le Leo would not have been possible without the strong support of her grandmother To’aonolesaofa’igaaitulagi Iose Tago Kelemete, her parents Tuatagaloa Manulele and Toreka Brown, her brother Veteran Brown, the Flower Power Organization, the SOFIAS, the Tafuna High School staff, the DYWA, and the Le Leo family.
Malo lava to all the Le Leo contestants and congratulations to Eden Brown for a job well done!


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