Feeling the Music of Moana with Opetaia Foa’i and Te Vaka – #MoanaEvent

Opetaia Foa‘i is the founder and lead singer of Te Vaka, is a winner of numerous world music awards, including the Senior Pacific Artist award for his contribuon to Pacific music.

Singer/songwriter Opetaia Foa'i and music group Te Vaka of MOANA

Opetaia Foa’i and music group Te Vaka (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

I participated in the Moana Press Event in Santa Monica and enjoyed listening to him talk about his involvement with the music in Moana.

Opetaia Foa'i Moana Interview

Opetaia enjoyed working with the musical team of Lin-Manual Miranda and Mark Mancina on the music for Moana.  He said that Lin is very good with lyrics and directing and Mark is very experienced. Even though Opetaia doesn’t read music he is able to write from emotion because he can grab a scene and get the emotion out of it very quickly.

His favorite instrument is a box or a wooden floor. When he would collaborate with Lin and Mark he would use a box to start laying out the feel for the music. He said he can find the tune by just feeling it and then expand the sound from there.

He said there are chants and a lot of drums when telling the stories of ancient Polynesia.  When he saw the finished movie with the music he said that it was beautiful because the animation and the story are incredible together. His ancestors would be proud of the movie.

Opetaia Foa'i - Quote 1 - Music is like breathing air

His children are members of his band Te Vaka. Two of his sons are Percussionists and his daughter Olivia is a singer, she sings the melody in the opening Castle animation.

Opetaia Foa'i and Olivia Foa'i attending the Moana World Premiere

Musicians Opetaia Foa’i (L) and Olivia Foa’i of Te Vaka attend The World Premiere of Disney’s “MOANA” (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Video from the World Premiere of Moana where Te Vaka performed at the El Capitan Theatre “We Know the Way” before the movie started.

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 14: Singer/songwriter Opetaia Foa'i and music group Te Vaka of MOANA took part today in "Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films" presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Opetaia Foa'i

Opetaia Foa’i and music group Te Vaka (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

The song that had the most meaning to Opetaia on the Soundtrack is “We Know the Way.”  It was the first song written in 2015 by Opetaia Foa’i and Lin-Manuel Miranda, which is performed by them as well.  I cried when I saw this part of the movie because it is such a moving point in the story.

The Soundtrack

The Moana two-disc deluxe edition feature additional tracks including demos, outtakes and instrumental karaoke tracks. The Deluxe version is a MUST for any Lin-Manuel Miranda fan. There are demos song by him on the Deluxe version.

Lin-Manuel also performs demos and outtakes of the following songs that are only available on the Deluxe version:

  • Unstoppable
  • Warrior Face
  • Where You Are
  • You’re Welcome
  • Shiny

Moana Deluxe Soundtrack - Cover

Moana Deluxe Soundtrack - CD

More details about the soundtrack can be found here “Moana Soundtrack Details and Clips


It was a pleasure interviewing Opetaia Foa’i to learn more about his journey to his success with Moana.

Opetaia Foa'i Group Interview.

 Related Posts

Check out these other Moana posts from the press junket.

Moana Press Junket Photos

About Moana

Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, is a demigod—half god, half mortal, all awesome. Charismatic and funny, he wields a magical fishhook that allows him to shapeshift into all kinds of animals and pull up islands from the sea.

During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder.


Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

Official Trailer

MOANA is now playing everywhere!

The brand new trailer for Walt Disney Animation Studios' MOANA is finally here! The film, starring Auli‘i Cravalho (voice of “Moana”) and Dwayne Johnson (voice of “Maui”), opens in theatres in 3D this Thanksgiving!

Like MOANA on Facebook, follow on Twitter, follow Disney Animation on Instagram

Visit the official MOANA website

 Disclaimer: Disney invited 5 Minutes for Mom (and me) to Los Angeles to attend the Moana Press Junket. All expenses have been paid by Disney, but all opinions are always 100% my own.

This blog post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com as part of the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program.  

About Dawn

Dawn is a social influencer and has been writing about her nerdy side since 2004. She enjoys writing about Entertainment, Travel, Disney, Star Wars and life with two little girls. Her advice is to keep on dreaming, do what you love and life will lead you a path to your happiness. Dawn also writes for 5 Minutes for Mom.

Speak Your Mind