When opera singer Ta’u Pupu’a performed at Peery’s Egyptian Theatre in Ogden, he was singing less than an hour from the house he grew up in.

But the trip to that stage involved countless miles with many twists and turns.

Pupu’a moved from Tonga to Utah as a child — the youngest of nine siblings.

Growing up, his life was filled with two things: football and music.

“My parents would always take us to church, and they would always sing in the choir,” Pupu’a said. “Music was always around the house and always around me.”

As a teenager, football took on a larger role. Pupu’a went to Weber State University on a football scholarship. After two years in Ogden, he was drafted to the NFL, but after playing for two teams and suffering multiple injuries, Pupu’a left football behind and moved to New York to pursue opera.

At first, this meant working as a restaurant host across the street from the Metropolitan Opera, but later it lead into studying at the prestigious Juilliard Opera Center.

Today, Pupu’a travels full time and performs from Iowa to San Francisco to Beijing.

In March 2018, Pupu’a returned to Utah for a one-night performances with Chamber Orchestra Ogden.

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