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Ellen surprises each of the five LDS 'Tonga Sisters' with a $10,000 scholarship

"The Tonga Sisters," a group of five LDS singers from Hawaii, performed on Ellen on Tuesday.
"The Tonga Sisters," a group of five LDS singers from Hawaii, performed on Ellen on Tuesday.
EllenTube screenshot

Covering songs from Boys II Men to Bruno Mars to "The Greatest Showman," these five sisters are gaining national attention for their musical talent and big dreams.

“The Tonga Sisters,” a singing group of sisters from Laie, Hawaii, performed a mashup of ‘90s songs and earned scholarships on the Ellen Show on Tuesday.

Alexsia (20), Tiueti (16), Lela (15), Siva (14) and Nini Tonga (11) — all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — told Ellen they started singing together in church when they were young. "The Tonga Sisters" began posting videos of Primary songs and LDS hymns on YouTube in 2009. One of the first videos they published was “Jesus Has Risen.”

“When we’re cleaning around the house or if we’re just laying around, I’ll start singing a note and then all my sisters will come in and harmonize,” Tiueti said on the show.

The sisters have high educational ambitions, too. Tiueti sister wants to go to UCLA to become a dentist while Siva and Nina want to go to the University of Utah or Stanford to become doctors. Lela loves math and wants to be a statistician.

“I want to be an NFL player,” Alexsia joked after her younger sisters talked about their goals. She told Ellen her dream is to be an FBI agent or go into forensics. Ellen surprised the sisters by awarding each of them with a $10,000 Shutterfly scholarship on the show.

“I didn’t expect money because I felt like being on the show was a gift in itself. When we received the money, I was dumbfounded. I sat there and didn’t know what to do. I cried a couple seconds after because I sat there in disbelief,” Lela later told the Deseret News.

“Growing up in a big family, you don’t expect it. You try to figure out ways that you’ll pay for your own college because you don’t want to put that on your own parents,” Tiueti added.

The sisters gave a shout out to their mom in the audience who came to support them. “She’s the reason we have these ambitions and goals… She’s instilled within us the desire to have a career and a steady job and be independent and just do really well for ourselves,” Tiueti said on Ellen.

The sisters said they were honored to be on the show and represent Tonga, Hawaii and the church in a small way and hope everyone who watches "feels that light and that spirit." Before and after every performance, like the Ellen show today, they pray, the sisters said, because their parents have instilled in them the power of prayer.

“All the posting on social media has been great, but in the end we always know who all the glory should go to, and it’s glory to God in all things we ever do. Without him, we’re nothing. We just hope we can continue to be examples because talk is cheap. What we do from here on out is for the Lord and for one another,” Tiueti said.