Paulini Curuenavuli, who performs simply under the name Paulini, is an Australian vocalist who first gained fame through the show Australian Idol, and is known for her work in the pop quartet the Young Divas and through her solo work. Born in Fiji in 1982, Paulini moved to Australia with her family when she was four years old. At six, she was already singing in her local choir. In 1990 Paulini's brother was tragically shot and killed during a robbery incident. In 1997, Paulini's high school, Bankstown Girls, recognized her as a true talent and she was placed in their talent development program. Because of the support she was receiving from school, she entered the televised talent contest Starstruck. She won the contest that year at the age of 16. Following the show, Paulini recorded "When You Believe" for the program's CD. With the involvement of her high school music department, she was also a participant on ABC's live School Spectacular concerts. In 2001 she formed a band called MIXX, which included her two sisters. At the same time she began cutting demos as a solo artist, although nothing materialized. Paulini was invited by the South Pacific Games team in Fiji to open their competition. She recorded the show's anthem, "Many Rhythms, One Love," for the Games' official album, The Pacific at Its Best.
In 2003, Paulini auditioned for the first season of Australian Idol. Famous for her phenomenal voice as well as for her grace and humility, she won the hearts of many viewers, and week after week was considered a contender for the final prize. She continuously earned praise from the judges for performing songs by Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Thelma Houston, and Toni Braxton. However, due to vote splitting with fellow finalist Cosima DeVito, Paulini was suddenly eliminated in the final-four round. In a poll taken on Australian Idol, Paulini's was the second most surprising elimination ever. Following her run on the show, she was offered many recording contracts, but ultimately accepted a four-album deal with Sony BMG.
In 2004, Paulini recorded her first album, which was produced by Audius Mtawarira, who had previously collaborated with Delta Goodrem. The album was mainly a collection of covers, featuring only two original tracks, "One Determined Heart" and "We Can Try," with the former bearing the same name as the title of the album. The first single released from the album was a cover of Canadian Jeff Healey's 1988 hit, "Angel Eyes." Though it was a jazzy choice for a first single, Paulini was happy with the selection, as it reflected the musical diversity she'd showcased on Australian Idol. The song was an instant success, and it peaked at number one on the ARIA charts. It remained in the Top Ten for almost three months, and was the fourth best-selling single of 2004 in Australia. In July 2004, the album One Determined Heart was officially released, debuting at number one and remaining in the Top Ten for several weeks, earning her a platinum certification for the album. The second single from the album was the original bluesy track entitled "We Can Try," which peaked at number 30 on the ARIA singles chart and at number nine on the ARIA urban Top 40 singles chart. In 2004, Paulini recorded and released a Christmas EP called Amazing Grace: Songs for Christmas. The EP, released in November, began to climb the charts, but it peaked at only number 70. The album reached the Top Ten on the urban albums chart and peaked in the Top Five on the Australasian chart.
Hoping to capitalize on the success of her debut album, Paulini finished recording her second album, Superwoman, in late 2004. Sony BMG, however, decided to wait nearly 18 months before releasing it. Her first single from the then-still-unreleased album was "Rough Day," which debuted at number three on the dance chart and at number 26 on the singles chart. The second track issued (while the album was still unreleased) was "So Over You," which was critically praised but only moderately successful commercially. It peaked at number 49 on the singles chart, but made it to number 13 on the urban chart. At long last, her second album was released in August 2006. Though it revealed more artistic merit on the part of Paulini, who had co-written several tracks and was responsible for all the vocal arrangements, there were several false release dates and push-backs, which sparked rumors that Paulini was being dropped from her contract with Sony BMG. The album peaked only at number 72, and was a commercial disappointment. The third single from the album, "I Believe," was used as a promotional tool for the album and only saw a limited release. Paulini joined the Young Divas, a short-lived group that included former Australian Idol contestants Kate DeAraugo, Jessica Mauboy, and Emily Williams. They achieved considerable success in Australia but split in 2008, due in part to Paulini's sustained activity and success as a solo artist and songwriter. She released a charity single ("Scarless"), collaborated with Ronan Keating ("Believe Again"), and wrote material for Sasha-Lee Davids, Edurne, and Yoann Fréget, among others. She eventually signed with Decca and released her third solo album, Come Alive, in 2015. ~ Matthew Chisling