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Sweet PanamE Concert - Fête de la Musique 2023

The Alliance Française Palmerston North is proud to present Sonia and Nigel, a French-American-Kiwi duo who have just released their new album and book SWEET PANAME.

They will perform a free concert at the Globe Theatre and introduce Palmerston North audiences to their unique blend of French/English songs and music.

A must-see concert on Saturday 10 June at 8 pm.

Sonia and Nigel duo

Sonia & Nigel are a multi-cultural acoustic duo featuring French-American Paris-born Sonia Wilson on vocals & ukulele and Kiwi-American virtuoso musician Nigel Gavin on 7-string guitar. After meeting and playing together for the first time at the Whare Flat Folk festival in Dunedin during Sonia’s first visit to New Zealand on a solo round-the-world trip in December 2014, the pair have since become a well-loved duo in the New Zealand music scene.

After two years of hard work behind the scenes on their bilingual French/English album + book project "Sweet Paname", the duo have just completed the first half of their national album+book release tour around New Zealand.

Their concert at the Alliance Française Auckland on March 4th marked the official release of their project "Sweet Paname" here in the North Island. 


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Celebrating my Parisian roots in song
from the other side of the world

by Sonia Wilson

Born on the rue des Martyrs in Paris, France to American parents, Sonia Wilson's life has been a whirlwind of creative leaps: from circus to gymnastics, theatre, gospel and a capella choirs, sign language, instrumental music, song writing, sound healing, travel, teaching and art-based community building, hers is an ongoing quest to leave each place a little better than she found it.

Music has taken her from the streets of Paris, across Kenyan savannah, through remote Himalayan villages, and eventually to New Zealand where she found her place, and her partner in heart and music, Nigel Gavin.

A book, music album and art exhibit all-in-one, this project was inspired by her desire to acknowledge and celebrate her French roots, while putting her own storytelling process at the service of showcasing a number of other musicians and visual artists met along the way.

Produced by John Egenes in Dunedin with the support of Stephen Stedman and the University of Otago, Sweet Paname is the first bilingual French/English album of the Sonia & Nigel duo.

Musicians include Sonia Wilson (lead and harmony vocals, guitar and ukulele), Nigel Gavin (7-string guitar, electric guitar, 11-string glissentar, loops, bass and ukulele), Tracey Collins (accordion), Gunnar Ellwanger (vocal lead & harmonies), Helen Webby (harp), Pascal Roggen (violin) & Anna Bowen (fiddle and vocal harmonies).

The accompanying book features lyrics, stories, photos and custom-made song illustrations by 15+ international artists that Sonia met on her travels between Paris and New Zealand. Graphic design by Karen Sheckler Wilson.

Released on: Saturday March 4, 2023 


"The music was so beautiful. When I played the album, my husband joined me and said to me: let’s dance and have some wine. I LOVE the book and the album!" (Ping Wang)

"Listened to your album this afternoon while reading your book, absorbing your words and the amazing art.  The tactile quality of the book is outstanding. On every level it is a great success - the next CD on our stacked machine was Billie Holliday. ... you just out-classed Billie. Amazing album, amazing package..." (Robin Kelly)

"Sonia and Nigel, I have no words to express the happiness I feel as I listen to your duo lift our spirits with your beautiful music and delicious complicity! [...] The concert at the Lumiere was incredible! I felt like I was both at home sitting in a living room with you having a chat and at the same time you took me to Paris in a way that no images or documentary could.(Marianne Bedin)

"Longue vie à votre beau duo talentueux et très inspirant ! Lives, Album, Livre, Site web... tout est harmonieusement en place pour partager avec nous votre passion de la musique, des voyages, des rencontres, et la richesse de vos cultures mêlées. Je suis tellement heureuse d'être le témoin de longue date de l'accouchement d'un si beau projet. Bien que le mot projet soit réducteur par rapport à toutes les vibrations qui émanent de votre façon d'être au monde et de votre univers artistique." (Caroline Daparo)