Talented Tuesday: NZ Music Month #1


May is New Zealand Music Month!

This is part one of  a series of blog posts during May to celebrate New Zealand Music Month. Each week it will highlight Auckland Libraries heritage resources relating to New Zealand music, and its talented musicians, across all genres. So, if you have a "muso" in your family's history and are looking for information on them, these resources might just help you with your search.

Gareeb Stephen Shalfoon (1904-1953), "Epi"- a nickname from his family, was a jazzer who initially played piano but he taught himself how to play clarinet and saxophone  because he said at that time it was easier to hire a pianist than horn players. In 1924 he put together a band called the Melody Boys who went on to make New Zealand's first jazz recording. It eventually became a family affair - his daughter Reo, a very talented and popular singer in her own right, frequently performed with the band.

Epi Shalfoon and the Melody Boys, Filmcraft, 1930.
Image from the Film Archive.

Sadly, Epi died at the young age of 48. He collapsed while dancing with his daughter at his favourite music venue, the Crystal Palace Ballroom.

Auckland Star, 26 September 1942, page 9.

The New Zealand Music Index is a wonderful source of information relating to New Zealand soloists, groups, ensembles and concerts. It is in card format as it has yet to be digitised, but the staff at the Research Centre are able to check the index for a name on your behalf.

This is a typical  index card and this entry for Epi Shalfoon recommends two resources. First, there is a reference to the New Zealand Music Scrapbook (NZMSB) and secondly, an article written by his daughter, Reo Sheirtcliff (nee Shalfoon), 'Dancing in the dark: a memoir of Epi Shalfoon', published in Music in New Zealand, No 10 (Spring 1990): 40--45.

New Zealand Music Index card, Auckland Libraries

Are there any musical performers in your family tree that you may have overlooked? Next time you are in the Central Auckland Research Centre ask us about the Music Index.


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