In Māori culture, “kaupapa” refers to the motivation and values behind action. Like an internal compass, “kaupapa” points towards consistent personal progression for Junelle Kunin. The New Zealand-born singer, songwriter, producer, label owner, and entrepreneur opens up an exchange of pure emotion through music. This transference of truth and light happens clearly on The Dalai Lama’s first album, Inner World [HITCO Entertainment/Khandro Music]—which she co-executive produced, assembled, and performed on. Inner World reached #1 on the Billboard New Age Album Chart, #4 Top New Artist Album Chart, peaking at #2 on the Global iTunes Album Chart and more.
She grew up in the small city of Rotorua, close to where her iwi (tribes) are from, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Pūkenga. Being Māori she experienced an eclectic upbringing, developing her voice by singing in church before converting to Buddhism as an adult. In 2014, she released her independent debut EP, Just This Sky. Produced, arranged, and recorded by her husband Abraham Kunin, it generated local acclaim.
Junelle's background includes being a professional jazz singer and Human Resources Executive. She has spent 15 years plus in the corporate world specialising in talent sourcing and development.
Throughout Junelle’s career she has always lent towards mentoring young professionals. Now she has both feet now firmly set in the realm of music and turns her efforts and energy towards aspiring musicians, including working with Abraham on programmes such as Haumako Music - Artist Development Wānanga. A charitable programme the couple spearhead focused on encouraging, helping, and inspiring youth to tell their stories through music.
“I want to give people a safe place for their emotions, we’re so occupied and constantly distracted that I try to provide honesty, care, and support. Even if it’s just momentarily, it’s a window where you can feel held with no judgement. Music inspires us to keep moving and trying. That’s so important to me.”
Abraham Kunin describes his niche in "finding the emotional resonance of a song and hearing where the music wants to go. Matching a sound to a feeling."
Abraham has spent the last 15 years as a professional musician. A career highlight has been producing, composing, arranging, and performing on the Dalai Lama's debut album Inner World [HITCO Entertainment/Khandro Music]. Inner World reached #1 on the Billboard New Age Album Chart, #4 Top New Artist Album Chart, peaking at #2 on the Global iTunes Album Chart and more.
He has worn the hats of producer, songwriter, session player, music director, recording/mix engineer, sound designer, and label co-owner among others. A lifelong passion for music was sealed when his older sister gave him Prince's Sign 'O' the Times for his 6th birthday. His love of The Purple One has never diminished.
He is a current band member with Home Brew and Teeks. Other collaborations include Anoushka Shankar, Avantdale Bowling Club, LIPS, Maisey Rika, Melodownz, and Noah Slee.
Abraham's formal background is in jazz. While he would not call himself a jazz musician, the spirit of the music informs and permeates his approach.
From early childhood until his late teens, raised in the Waitakere ranges of Auckland, New Zealand, Abraham was an insatiable listener long before he became a creator. Music was and still is his refuge. He is retrospectively grateful for the extended time spent (paraphrasing Bill Evans) soaking up music as a 'sensitive layperson'.
In recent years, Abraham has been investing in Aotearoa's rangatahi (young people) as a mentor through various organisations including Ranui 135, OMAC, and Haumako Music which he runs alongside Junelle.
To quote Albert Ayler - "Music is the healing force of the universe."