Farewell to S. Pacific music icon

Daniel Kramer and Daniel Rae Costello in Majuro celebrating Kramer’s birthday in January 2016 with an appropriately decorated cake.

Daniel Rae Costello, one of the most influential musicians in Pacific Island reggae music, died earlier this week in Samoa. He was 58.

He was credited with influencing many Marshall Islands musicians, including Chaninway, which dominated the local music scene in the 1990s.

Six9Too Productions owner Daniel Kramer said “many of their (Chaninway’s) top songs were borrowed beats from Daniel Rae Costello music. He was such a big influence on my passion for music, I had always dreamt of connecting with and bringing him back again to perform one day here in the Marshalls.”

The Fiji-born artist produced numerous albums and many songs that topped music charts over decades of performing.

Kramer connected with Costello through his uncle Wally Milne, whose families grew up on the same street in Fiji. The two wanted to bring him to Majuro, but Costello had stepped back from performing in concerts years earlier. “He had stopped touring and hadn’t been on a big stage for over a decade, he was only doing small hotel shows in Samoa,” said Kramer. “In 2015 my uncle Wally and I finally decided to contact him to ask if he was willing to come to Majuro and do a show. To my amazement, he said absolutely!”

Costello played what turned out to be his last big concert in Majuro for the Delap New Year’s Eve block party organized by Daniel Kramer December 31, 2015.

This helped to launch Kramer’s big push in the local music scene: Power 103.5FM was established a few months later, the hit South Pacific band Onetox came in for Summer Jam in 2016, and Kramer’s music machine has continued to gain momentum since.

“Despite his fame and influence on music in the whole pacific, Costello was one of the nicest, most humble people I’ve met,” said Kramer. When he performed at the Majuro block party four years ago, Costello stayed for several weeks. “We hung out at my house a lot, talking about music and sharing cooking recipes,” said Kramer. “He taught me his secret chicken and lamb curry recipes which I still cook.”

Kramer credited Costello for being his “biggest mentor when I decided to venture into the music recording business.”

Read more about this in the July 26, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.