Bic Runga

Briolette Kah Bic RungaMNZM (born 13 January 1976), recording as Bic Runga, is a New Zealand singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist pop artist. Her first three studio albums debuted at number one on the New Zealand Top 40 Album charts. Runga has also found success internationally in Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom with her song “Sway“.

New Zealand singer and songwriter

Bic Runga

Runga performing on the 2010 Winery Tour, in Auckland, New Zealand
Background information
Birth name Briolette Kah Bic Runga
Born (1976-01-13) 13 January 1976 (age 45)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Genres Pop rock, folk rock
Instruments Vocals, guitar, drums
Years active 1994–present
Labels Sony New Zealand
Website www.bicrunga.com
Musical artist

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Runga was born in Christchurch. Her mother, Sophia Tang, was a Chinese Malaysian lounge singer in Malaysia when she met Joseph Te Okoro Runga, a Māori ex-serviceman.[1][2] They moved to New Zealand to live. Runga is of Ngāti Kahungunu descent.[1] Regarding her name, she explains: “‘You say it Bec, rather than Bic. … It’s Chinese, it’s a strange vowel sound which doesn’t seem to translate in Australia. It means the colour of jade, which might mean green.'”[3]

Runga grew up in Hornby, Christchurch surrounded by a musically-inclined family, and started recording songs with her sisters, Boh and Pearl, when she was four years old. Runga’s older sister Boh was the vocalist in the New Zealand rock group Stellar, while Pearl is a session singer.

She learned how to play drums at the age of eleven, and guitar at about fourteen. Runga also learned to play the keyboard around this time. She attended Cashmere High School,[4][5] joining high school bands and performing with local jazz groups by her mid-teens.

Under the name of “Love Soup”, Runga and Kelly Horgan entered the 1993 Smokefreerockquest in Christchurch, winning third place and a music contract with Pagan Records. Using a QE II Arts Council grant, Runga recorded the first DriveEP in Wellington. Unsatisfied with the direction that her music was being taken, she moved to Auckland in 1994 and spent a year writing and performing.

In 1995, she sent a new demo of “Drive” to Sony Music, who signed Runga in September of that year and bought her Wellington recordings from Pagan Records. Sony had her re-record the song with more instruments, but it was eventually her demo that was used on the upcoming album. It entered the Top 10 in New Zealand and won her the APRA Silver Scroll award in 1996.

Runga then released “Bursting Through“, the first single from her upcoming album, also entitled Drive. The success of the singles led to the release of her debut album, Drive, in 1997. Runga’s song “Sway“, along with a duet with Dan Wilson of Semisonic called “Good Morning Baby“, were used in the films American Pie, and Cruel Intentions. Six singles were released from the album, while “Sway” was released in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Runga has recorded two songs called “Drive”. The first was her own, which appeared on her debut album of the same name. The second was a 1999 collaboration with fellow New Zealanders Strawpeople, providing guest vocals for their cover of The Cars‘ classic 1984 hit.

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