For most of her life, Jaeden has been surrounded by sports and has always played basketball, being influenced by her father as her coach and personal trainer. He began working with her at a very young age teaching her basketball fundamentals and skills, and she would always go along with her older siblings when her father would take them to go through drills and work out.
At 6’1”, Jaeden is a natural player and has had many colleges following her since she was in 8th grade where she was a standout athlete in Louisiana and earned many awards, with both State and National recognition. Her teammates and coaches have always recognized her keen leadership abilities and commend her for her discipline, and respect for coaches and teammates alike. She has been told by her coaches that the qualities that she has cannot be taught, and it is her respect for others that makes her stand out.
Jaeden credits her respectful and coachable personality to her Polynesian upbringing. Her father is Samoan, and she was taught by her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to always show respect to anyone older than her and to never talk back or be disrespectful to others.
At mealtime, if there were guests in her home, Jaeden and her siblings were not allowed to get their plate of food until after the guests had gotten their plates. Her mother, who was born and raised in Minnesota, grew up in her home with most of the same values. Both the maternal and paternal grandparents repeatedly taught the importance of staying humble, being kind, loving others, having a strong work ethic, being honest and living the commandments, and to always go to Church. The grandparents also taught that it was important to be balanced – spiritually, mentally, and physically – and to get a good education. However, the most important life lesson that they taught was to always have God in their lives, and that to be successful in life, they need spiritual guidance, and that they should never forget the One who gave them their talents.
Singing is a big part of the Polynesian culture. Although Jaeden loves sports, music has always been a big part of her life as she has been surrounded by music and singing by her sister, cousins, aunts, uncles, and others. Jaeden started singing when she was younger with her older sister, Taylor, and her cousin Anna Richey. They would sing and harmonize and make up their own rendition of songs and then record themselves and put it on their social media. Sometimes they would also create YouTube videos.
After seeing some of Anna and Jaeden’s music videos, and learning who Jaeden is, Nik Day contacted Jaeden about co-writing a song for 2017 For the Strength of Youth album while she was still living in Louisiana. Nik Day works for the LDS Church Headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. He does many things for the Church, including producing albums and helping youth write the songs for the For the Strength of Youth album each year. Jaeden was very excited and very humbled to be chosen as only 10-12 songs are chosen each year. She felt blessed that Nik asked her to sing on the CD, knowing that she was one of 12 teens chosen from around the world. She was also excited to go to Utah a few months later to meet Nik and choose the topic for the song that she would write with him and record.
In their first meeting in Salt Lake City, on the 23rd floor of the Church Office Building, she was surprised that the topic “Families” had not been chosen. Nothing more needed to be said. She knew that writing a song about her family would be the best topic she could sing about. Jaeden and Nik then began talking about her family, traditions her family has, things she does with her family, and her personal feelings about what it means to be a part of a family.
Nik gave her a piece of paper and told her to start writing down everything she could think of that had to do with her family. As she wrote things down, he was sitting with his guitar, looking for a melody. After that first meeting, they had several telephone conversations, and after about six months, they had written the lyrics and Nik had composed the melody. In October of 2016, at age 15, Jaeden flew back to Utah, and while visiting family, she recorded her song in a recording studio in Provo, Utah. She loved the entire process of coming up with a song, writing the lyrics about her own personal life experiences, working in the studio, Nik helping her get out of her comfort zone, and just singing about her family! In January of 2017, the album was released online, and it has been one of the greatest experiences of her life. In April 2017, Jaeden was again contacted by Nik Day, as the church wanted to film a global music video on families and wanted to use her song! She was very excited and could hardly wait to record it with her own family members.
On May 6th, after organizing and gathering up 135 family members from both sides of her family, she recorded her music video in Alpine, Utah. It has been one of her greatest accomplishments, and most memorable experiences in her life thus far, and she is very proud of her song, the music video, and for all her family that participated. The filming of the video began at 8:00 am and went until dark. She only wishes that they could have used all the video footage with every person but to take 12 hours of video clips and make it into a 3 1/2 min song was just not possible. But overall, she was thrilled with the final project when she finally got to watch the edited video. The strangest part of the entire experience for her is when she is riding down the road and hears her song on the radio. It reminds her that families are forever, and how thankful she is for her own family!
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Jaeden Vaifanua, a 16-year-old Latter-day Saint youth who resides in Draper, Utah, with her family, is gradually making a positive mark on the world. Earlier in 2017, she co-wrote a song with Nik Day for the Church’s Youth Mutual Theme album. The song is a topic that...