Zealand-based soul and gospel singer Evan Silva continues to
prove with every new CD and live performance that he rates
alongside any of his international contemporaries with his
sweet harmonious delivery and foot moving rhythm and
grooves. His 2005 album Out of
the Shadows was critically acclaimed and gained airtime on a
number of radio stations with video clips played on three local
In 2007 he
was back in at Stebbings recording studios in
Auckland cooking up more groovy delights for his latest release of
Kiss of Grace.
Listen to Evan Silva's sounds and you'll realise he's a world
class act and his music
is an essential addition to those who love meaningful melodic
tunes that get your feet moving and speak to the heart.
Better still get a taste of what you're in for
Here's a little history:
After 30-years performing Evan Silva is still New
Zealand's Motown man and his voice and songwriting continue to mature
with the years; he always insists on the best and if you get a
chance to catch him performing live with his band Silva Service
you'll be stunned at their ability to weave wonderful magic
around their front man.
was born in Mission Bay, Auckland in 1947 of Portugeuse, Pacific Island and
French descent. As a teenager his skill as a musician and performer were quickly recognised
when an uncle took him along to
a club on the North Shore where he ended up making his debut at
the age of 13-years.
By the time he was 16 he joined his first band known as The Mockers
with some teenage friends who played through the Christmas
period at the huge Orewa dances. However plans to take on lucrative
weekend gigs were stifled when Silva, who had something of a
short fuse, came to the notice of the law.
He'd been hanging out with a tough crowd and after a several
assaults, mostly on those much larger than him, he was given six
months of periodic detention. In those days young offenders
spend the entire weekend under the watchful eyes of overseers
where his frustrations were worked out behind a shovel.
That six months helped Silva decide once and for all that music
was going to become the key focus in his life not hooning around
with the bad crowd. He kept himself to himself playing weeknights
performances with his own band which renamed
themselves Nobody's Children.
This unit was one of Auckland's first full-on soul
playing hard edged Wilson Picket songs including 99 1/2, Midnight Hour and
6,3,4,5,7,8,9. The band quickly became sought after for
its hot sound and tight playing despite the fact Silva was often
so nervous he would sing the night away with his back to the
Nobody's Children played top Auckland venues The Galaxie and the
Top 20 in Durham Lane.
Action full time
While performing at the Top 20 club in
1966 he met up with bass
player Jack Stradwick who asked him to join
profile group The Action. Silva replaced Jack's brother
Danny who had decided to leave the group. At long last Silva was able
to realise his dream of becoming a full time musician. The Action was New Zealand's answer to the Tamla Motown sound with a tight rhythmic feel and classic soul
harmonies. The band had been formed earlier in 1966 featuring Jack
Stradwick on bass, Brian Harris on drums, John Bissett on
keyboards and John Kristian on guitar.
Action were resident at the Top 20 Club and then the Galaxie where
they regularly drew full houses
.They toured heartland New Zealand and recorded four singles on
the Zodiac label - all of which made chart appearances.
The band was a regular on Pete Sinclair's C'Mon TV show. Most of
the time Evan admits he was drunk on Lemon Gin, 'the flavour of
Action headed across the Tasman in late
1967. The first gig in Sydney was at Whiskey a Go Go alongside
resident artists Billy
Thorpe and the Aztecs. The
first spot the band received rave reception from the American
GI's on R&R from the Vietnam war who loved the Motown, soul
sounds. The band was immediately signed for a residency at a club called The
Hawaiian Eye in Sydney. They appeared on the top
rated Australian TV show Bandstand.
The Action had taken up lodgings in King's Cross with Sydney's
seamy underworld of dope and prostitution all around them. There
were parties every night, and drugs were a staple diet. Evan
recalls the consequences of those heady days included the death of a number of friends and others who never
their right mind.
The stresses of working together for two solid years began to
tell as tension grew between members of The Action.
By late 1968 Jack Stradwick and new guitarist John Kristian quit
so Silva got in touch with Mike Wilson and Gus Fenwick of The
Apple to come over from New Zealand to keep the band alive.
Drummer Brett Neilson was the next to quit and he was replaced for a
time by Wellington drummer (now actor) Andy Anderson.
Evan recalls Anderson often played The Hawaiian Eye with a staff
meal sitting on his tom tom drum so he could pick away at the
food inbetween songs. When the band was playing however Evan
says he'd often look over and see gravy and peas vibrating off
the plate onto the floor.
On another occasion Anderson turned up
late for a gig without his drumsticks. Just before the set he
raced off down the road to the grounds of the Sydney court
house, climbed a tree and came back with two
thin green branches. He used these to pound his drums for the
rest of the night with the sap spraying into the audience and
Within a year of the third line-up change however, it was all
over for The Action. The band members has pushed each other to
the limits and it was time for something new.
Silva put together a short term band with Wilson and Fenwick
doing the club scene on Sydney's North Shore. After that he
joined forces with
popular Melbourne band Compulsion - formed from top Kiwi band Sounds
Unlimited- and making an
impact on the Australian scene. They were playing Hendrix
and Joe Cocker and appeared in the TV soap opera Bell Bird and the movie The Vision, which band
members barely remember doing.
Out of Compulsion Silva and Tehei formed another short-lived
unit known as Total Abstainers which was approached to be the
resident band for the rock musical Hair. This didn't happen and
the band broke up with Tehei going on to join the remnant of another 60s Kiwi
band The Castaways.
Silva and Stradwick formed progressive
blues-rock band Hamul financed by a successful businessman which
ended up playing in Melbourne then moving to Sydney where it
was resident at the Condor Room for at least six months.
Back in New Zealand in about 1969 Silva and Mike Wilson
got together again in 1971 to form The Truth - after a six-month
residency at the Montemarte it also disbanded. Jack Stradwick went on to become a
founding member of Tommy Adderley's Headband.
Evan Silva admits he had become "an
arrogant, hard-hearted individual". He began to work in
the studio doing vocals for a many TV and radio jingles
including McDonald's, KFC and Woolworths. This was his forte for
about seven years until around 1973 something happened in his
life which to this day leave himself and his friends
Hard heart to Pastor
He became a Christian, a total change took place in his
attitude and the way he lived. He began to study the Bible and
new revelations about the real meaning of his life and how he
could become a new person without the hard edges. Evan
returned to the studios and worked from 1974-1981 doing vocals
for a bulk number of TV & radio jingles.
his soul band ReAction, originally with the bass player
for Lionel Ritchie’s Commodores. This band played
corporate functions, Java Jive, Corner Bar and Christmas in the
Park, fronted the Galaxie Reunion and kicked off the book launch
Hostage to the Beat at the Foundry.
Evan Silva became involved in leading 'praise and worship' with his musical skills
and moved on to pastoring churches in New Zealand
which he has now been doing for two decades. He still
writes and performs some of the most rhythmic and soulful
gospel, jazz and blues songs you're likely to hear anywhere.
Back into the studio
Evan and Jack Stradwick are both pastors in the
Auckland Christian City Church movement. Evan and Jack
collaborated on two basic gospel tapes Will It Be Gold and to
Bring Glory in the 70s early 80s. He drove from Wellington
to Auckland to record over a weekend then back again to the
capital city to preach.
Evan recorded the CD Aint No Two Ways About It early
1997 with Jack Stradwick on bass. The album features John Olding
and Eddie Pausma on guitars, Denis Winters on drums, Trevor
King on keyboards, Bruce French on saxophone and Sarah and
Vanessa on background vocals. Evan is the main vocalist and does
some of his own bvs. The album has influences from his
Motown-soul roots and the sounds of Al Green, Four Tops and Otis
The title track Ain't no Two Ways About It recalls his time in
Sydney playing the Hawaiian Eye in 1968 when he recalls a fan
jumping on stage and preaching about Jesus Christ. This infuriated Silva who 'made him pay'.
However that event stuck with him making his realise his own
volatile personality. These days he sees Christ as having paid
the price to bring him from that old life - 'aint no two ways
about it!'. The CD was a finalist in the 1997 Clear
created considerable media attention due to Evan’s long and
distinguished history in soul and R&B music in NZ and Australia;
and his conversion to Christianity. In 1997 Aint No Two Ways
About It was a finalist in the Clear Music Awards. In 1998
TV3 Nightline News Host Alex DeJong visited Evan’s church to
film a Sunday service and interview him. This went to air on the
10.30 pm news. ATV News presenter Paul Hobbs also came to film
and interview Evan about his music and the church; this was
viewed on the 5.30 pm News. Radio NZ’s Lisa Owen attended a
service recording Evan and the congregation which went to air.
Evan appeared on The Good Morning TV Show, answering
questions and performing ‘I Will Cry Out’. Cool Blue
(96.10 FM), a jazz-blues continuous music radio station in
Auckland regularly play the track I Say Father, as well
as Send Me An Angel off his 2000 live album Gotta Get
Leighton Smith, NZ’s popular
talk back host on ZB, received a copy of
Aint No Two Ways
and concluded that Evan
must be black American. He was amazed to discover that he was
in fact a New Zealander, and decided to run a radio competition
for listeners to “guess the artist”. Listeners phoned in, citing
an incredible diversity of musicians from Phil Collins and Steve
Wonder to Eric Clapton. When Evan called to thank Leighton for
the airplay, his producer put him on air immediately to be
interviewed about his life and Leighton asked him to give a full
account of his conversion to Christianity.
then Leighton has put out a compilation album with Warner Music
called Makin’ Whoopee. The song Love Sweet Love was
included alongside tracks from Dr John, Willie Nelson, Ray
Charles, Little River Band and others. Leighton publicly
declared Evan’ music to be “of international standard, deserving
that year Evan was interviewed live on air for an hour from the
UK by CrossRhythms Network. The staff there too believed him to
be American, and after finding out his nationality, originated
the phrase ‘Kiwi Soul Man’ in their magazine review of
his music. Most tracks off Aint No Two Ways About It
were played on this station, and Love Sweet Love again
was selected for a CrossRhythms compilation album
Gotta Get Up
was nominated for the 2001 NZ Music Awards, Gospel section; and
the song Send Me An Angel was covered by an artist in
Denmark. Auckland based Jazz singer Caitlin Smith reviewed the
album for NZ Music magazine, calling Evan “NZ Reformed
Bad Boy – our very own Al Green.” Caitlin wrote in the
Feb/March 2001 Edition “the production is slick and warm…this
album is a testament to Evan’s singing strength”.
In 2004 Evan had
the opportunity to go into Stebbing Studios where he had spent
years recording singles and singing jingles, this time to get
his new album done. There were 13 new songs in a jazz, Latin
and soul flavours with as couple of ballads including a duet
with Caitlin Smith. Evan hand picked 24 musicians including a
great rhythm section, and laid the album down over 18 months.
The result was
Out of the Shadows
on the Zodiac
in 2007 Evan has been back working at Stebbings recording studio
in Auckland on a laid back, melodic groove ‘worship’ album
Kiss of Grace with
all the top musos. Evan says the songs breathe life and leave
plenty of room for God to ease inbetween bringing life and
encouragement to the listeners.
Information for this article was
gleaned from personal conversions with Evan Silva by Keith
Newman, research from Melanie Chandler-Winters and reference to Hostage to The Beat - The Auckland Scene
1955-1970 By Roger Watkins
Evan Silva on YouTube: