This country has a cultural heartbeat like few others. For millennia that pulse has been powered by music. It has always been song that has told this country’s stories – it’s why such an ancient culture remains so alive and powerful. But today we see a new tradition being born – young artists drawing from two very different worlds to make music and tell stories about contemporary life but with an ageless perspective.
You can hear it through every beat and skip of Emily's music and her deeply engaging and personal songs. Emily sings in both English and Anindilyakwa, the traditional language of her home on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory. Hers was a childhood of water and music. Life growing up on the island was one of, travel, fishing and extended family. A mother telling her stories of dreams and dolphins that would one day become the seed of her music. Moving to Brisbane at age 6 was a shock, but it was in that city that she started to discover new sounds and senses. It was when she travelled home though for a funeral that her heritage really grabbed her.
“There were these young men waiting on the side of the roads with grass leaves,” Emily recalls. “They started to make little fires on the edge of the road leading all the way to the burial grounds and the men surrounding the car started singing in language. The way their voices rattled, the way that they held those long notes put me in a trance. It was then that I had the fascination with everything to do with singing.” Emily taught herself piano at age 10 and almost immediately started writing her own music. Poetry, books, ukele, guitar, saxophone, choir – they were all drawn into her imagination and the songs started to flow.
Since then, in almost the blink of an eye, she has become a seasoned performer who has taken her music around the country and abroad with show and festival appearances in Sweden and France. Closer to home she has performed at Gaarma Festival, Island Vibes, Woodford Folk Festival, Clancestry and numerous other events; performing alongside respected artists like Shellie Morris, Troy Cassar Daley and Impossible Odds. Add in a couple of 2016 Queensland Music Award nominations and a first single debut on the AMRAP charts, staying in the top 10 for over a month and the picture starts to build of a young artist with a very bright tomorrow.
That talent was recognized when she was selected to write with Powderfinger’s Bernard Fanning as part of a special collaboration through the 2014 Clancestry Event. It was this collaboration that led to her first single, ‘Ngerraberrakernama’ and sets the tone for her debut EP. Produced by acclaimed artist David Bridie (My Friend The Chocolate Cake: Not Drowning, Waving) and features percussion by Greg Sheehan and released June 17th 2016 through Wantok Musik. From traditional stories and nursery ryhmes, to songs that address the ever-present challenges to her community and to simply growing up, the EP is a compelling listen.
Dawn Awakening - Stumers Creek, Coolum - Sunday 3 September.