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Bic Runga
Runga2 small.jpg
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 48)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Genres Pop rock, folk rock
Instruments Vocals, guitar, drums
Years active 1994–present
Labels Sony New Zealand, Columbia

Briolette Kah Bic Runga MNZM (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 1997 song "Sway".

Early life

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. They moved to New Zealand to live. Runga is of Ngāti Kahungunu descent. 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.'"

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, joining high school bands and performing with local jazz groups by her mid-teens.


1993–1997: Early career and Drive

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 Drive EP 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.

2000–2008: Beautiful Collision and Birds

Runga performing in Dublin in 2004

In 2000, Runga toured with Tim Finn and Dave Dobbyn, resulting in a release of a live album in November 2000, titled Together in Concert: Live. It peaked at number 2 on the New Zealand charts and has been certified 3× platinum. Runga released her second solo album, Beautiful Collision in 2002. It entered the New Zealand charts at number one and has been certified 10× platinum in New Zealand.

Her third studio album, Birds, was released in New Zealand on 28 November 2005. New Zealand artists Neil Finn (piano) and Anika Moa (backing vocals) contributed to the album. The first single, "Winning Arrow", was released on the same day. It was her third consecutive studio album to enter the New Zealand charts at number one. Birds was certified triple platinum.

Runga played a 'Vietnamese lounge singer' in the 2005 film Little Fish, and covered Gene Pitney's "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart" for the soundtrack. In the 2006 New Year Honours, Runga was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to music.

In November 2008, Runga released Try to Remember Everything which is a collection of unreleased, new and rare Bic Runga recordings from 1996 to 2008. The album was certified Gold in New Zealand on 14 December 2008, selling over 7,500 copies.

2011–2015: Belle and Anthology

Runga contributed to the score and soundtrack to New Zealand filmmaker Roseanne Liang's debut feature film My Wedding and Other Secrets (2011). In addition to featuring "Say After Me" from Birds, the film also included two tracks ("Hello Hello" and "This Girl's Prepared for War") from her fourth album Belle.

Belle was released in November 2011. Runga completed a 17 date tour across New Zealand and 13 dates across Ireland, United Kingdom and Australia.

A greatest hits album, Anthology, was released on 1 December 2012.

In June 2015, Runga released a new single titled "Dreamed a Dream". This was a collaboration with Hollie Fullbrook of Tiny Ruins, with whom she toured New Zealand in June and July 2015. As well as solo performances by both artists, these shows included covers of songs by Simon & Garfunkel, Yoko Ono, Francoise Hardy, Donovan and Fleetwood Mac.

2016–present: Close Your Eyes and New Zealand Music Hall of Fame

In October 2016, it was announced that Runga would release an album of consisting of ten covers and two original tracks titled Close Your Eyes. "Close Your Eyes" was released on 14 October 2016 as a single.

In November 2016, Runga was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. Recorded Music CEO Damian Vaughan said "Bic is one of our most loved and treasured recording artists, her songs are instantly recognizable and have been part of the fabric of New Zealand for more than 20 years. We're honoured to present Bic with the 2016 Legacy Award and induct her into the NZ Music Hall of Fame".

Personal life

Runga's partner is singer Kody Nielson. She has three children: Joe (born 2007), Sophia (born 2013), and Frida (born 2015). She has two sisters who are also musicians, Pearl Runga and Boh Runga.


In the 2006 New Year Honours Runga was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music.


Studio albums

  • Drive (1997)
  • Beautiful Collision (2002)
  • Birds (2005)
  • Belle (2011)
  • Close Your Eyes (2016)

Compilation albums

  • Try to Remember Everything (2008)
  • Anthology (2012)

Live albums

  • Together in Concert: Live (with Tim Finn and Dave Dobbyn) (2000)
  • Live in Concert with the Christchurch Symphony (with The Christchurch Symphony) (2003)

New Zealand Music Awards

The New Zealand Music Awards are presented annually by Recorded Music NZ recognising outstanding artistic and technical achievements in the recording field.

Year Award For Result
1996 Rising Star Award herself Nominated
Most Promising Female Vocalist herself Won
1997 Single of the Year unknown Nominated
Best Female Vocalist herself Won
Best Songwriter herself for "Bursting Through" Nominated
1998 Album of the Year Drive Won
Single of the Year "Sway" Won
Best Female Vocalist herself for "Sway" Won
Best Video Wayne Conway for Runga's "Suddenly Strange" Nominated
Best Engineer Simon Sheridan for Runga's "Sway" Won
Best Songwriter Bic Runga's "Sway" Won
Best Cover Wayne Conway for Runga's Drive Won
1999 International Achievement Bic Runga Won
2000 International Achievement Bic Runga Won
2001 Album of the Year Tim Finn, Dave Dobbyn & Bic Runga Together in Concert: Live Nominated
2003 Album of the Year Beautiful Collision Nominated
Single of the Year "Get Some Sleep" Nominated
Best Female Vocalist Bic Runga Beautiful Collision Won
Best Solo Artist Bic Runga Beautiful Collision Won
Best Music Video Chris Graham and Bic Runga for Runga's "Something Good" Nominated
Highest Selling New Zealand Album Beautiful Collision Won
Producer of the Year Bic Runga Beautiful Collision Won
2003 Best Female Solo Artist Live in Concert Nominated
Highest Selling New Zealand Album Beautiful Collision Nominated
International Achievement Bic Runga Nominated
2006 Album Of The Year Birds Won
Single of the Year "Winning Arrow" Nominated
Best Female Solo Artist Bic Runga Birds Won
Best Producer Bic Runga Birds Won
Peoples Choice Award herself Nominated
Best Engineer Andre Upston for Runga's Birds Won
2012 Best Pop Album Belle Nominated
Best Producer Kody Nielson for "Belle" Nominated
2016 New Zealand Music Hall of Fame herself inductee

See also

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