Tag Archives: Australia

Artist Profiles: Saltwater Band

Saltwater Band

The Saltwater Band consisted of eight young musicians from remote Elcho Island off the coast of North East Arnhem Land.

Their first album, Gapu Damurrun, showcases two styles of contemporary indigenous music. Contemporary traditional songs(such as ‘Gopuru’ and ‘Bakitju’) that sound as though they were written yesterday but in fact are over 10,000 years old, and new contemporary pop songs such as the reggae/ska influenced ‘Saltwater Music’ and the beautiful ‘Gurrumul History’.

The Saltwater Band was Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, the band’s most experienced member. He toured extensively in the days when he was a member of Yothu Yindi and a major contributor to that band’s very successful Tribal Voice Album.

Gurrumul was a brilliant musician and outstanding songwriter. Saltwater Band gave Gurrumul the opportunity to further highlight and develop his songwriting talents in his own band.

The other major influence in Saltwater Band was Manuel Nulupani Dhurrkay, lead singer, and with Gurrumul a major song writing influence for Saltwater Band. Manuel’s strong vocal leads set the tone for the Saltwater Band’s unique harmonies

Geoffrey and Manuel wrote songs both to entertain and educate their audience, about the strong traditional ties they had with their culture.

Their songs served to pass on to the younger members of their communities their traditional stories and values, and instead of traditional culture being swamped by western influence the traditional culture in this case has adapted to the ‘new way’ and is able to compete with western music. This enables a community to pass on to the next generation the important songs of their culture.

Gurrumul died on July 25, 2017, in Darwin, Australia.


Artist Profiles: Rhubee Neal

Rhubee Neale

Rhubee Neale (Sue Gibson Napanangka) a Central Australian Desert Rose is originally from Alice Springs she is of the Anmetyerre, Arrernte and Irish heritage and now a resident of Sydney.

Rhubee is an Indigenous performer and Singer/Songwriter. Her lyrics and music captures her Irish and Aboriginal Identities with topics close to her heart relating to her people, life and homeland. Rhubee’s performance is honest and warm she gives her audience a gift with each song’ stories from her rich and varied past, an Artist working in storytelling through song art and stage (EORA end of year Theatre production EPHEMERRA- Choir). Her prominent instruments are vocals and guitar and taste in music style ranges from Blues, Country, Reggae and Folk. Rhubee worked as an extra on film, a Lecturer with in the Higher Education Sector and a Cultural Educator / presenter.

Rhubee’s music was nurtured to develop by her family, her music gift originated from both parents. Rhubee’s childhood dream to sing became a reality when she commenced the Music and Art Course at EORA TAFE, Centre for Performing Arts, Chippendale, Sydney NSW, Australia. Rhubee is passionate to utilize her new medium of music to promote and share heritage with all walks of the human family.

Rhubee performed around Sydney with Kenneth Smith and also with her nephew Nathan Scott at various Community events and venues such as the Voices of the Village, The Harp in Tempe and the Sandringham Hotel, Newtown.

Artists that inspired Rhubee: Kev Carmody, Archie Roach, Emmie Lou Harris, Dolly Parton and Michelle Shocked.

Rhubee co-writes with such songwriters such as her Sister Letty Scott, Nathan Scott and Kenneth Smith. Some of the Songs registered with Apra are Kangaroo Irish Stew, Windmill Jack, White Sheets Like Cockatoo’s.


Artist Profiles: Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor


By sharing the stories and music of Aboriginal and European Australia,  artist and educator Paul Walking Stick Taylor helps bridge cultures. On his albums and in person Taylor delights in celebrating the culture of his homeland through story, song and didjeridu. He travels throughout the US, performing to all ages and conducting school residencies, combining storytelling and music with dance and painting. At senior centers, businesses, community halls and festivals, Taylor not only performs but also gets participants involved, whether it s creating a mural or singing along.

For Taylor, creating and performing traditional arts of Australia is more than just entertainment – it s also documenting and celebrating one of the world s fastest vanishing cultures. Taylor is mentored by Yidunduma Bill Harney, last male custodian of the Wardaman culture in Australia’s Northern Territory. Now based in Laramie, Wyoming, Taylor returns to Australia on sabbatical each year to spend time with family and to travel and study with Mr. Harney.

Trained as a social worker, Taylor has spent his life traveling and experiencing cultures from around the world. “I have been blessed with close contact with Australia s Aboriginal people, the Filipino and Balinese traditional cultures of Asia, and the Lakota, Hopi and Navajo people of North America,” Taylor says. Wherever his journeys take him, he studies and shares in rich traditions of song, dance and stories.

As a performing artist, Paul trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England. He worked professionally as an actor, stage manager in Australia’s regional theaters and as a clown in a circus show performing throughout England, Scotland and Wales.ᅠ

Taylor has been endorsed by the state Arts Councils of Texas, Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and he has been honored for his work with Arts in Education by being appointed Adjunct Professor in the University of Wyoming, College of Education.

His CD Cooee! won four national awards, the NAPPA and Parent’s Choice Gold Award 2003 for Storytelling, NAPPA Honors Award 2003 for Music, and a 2004 Storytelling World Award.


Artist Profiles: Nathan Scott

Nathan Scott is a young, indigenous performer from the Anmatyerre (mother) people, North-West of Alice Springs, NT and the Kalkadoon (father) people of Mount Isa, Qld. His choice of instruments is didgeridoo and guitar and his style of music ranges from blues and folk to rap and instrumental.

Nathan was born in Adelaide SA, but grew up in Alice Springs with his mom and sisters. Previous musical history, at 17 he was taught to play the didgeridoo from Clinton Luckett. This helped nurture an interest in music, which led to him doing a course in music at Eora TAFE, Centre for Performing Arts, Chippendale, Sydney. During his studies at Eora, Nathan learnt to play the guitar. Nathan is endeavoring to continue to learn more about the various style of music that has enriched his life.

He has performed at various events and venues all over Sydney. Some of these performances were at the New South Wales Art Museum, for NSW Governor General Maria Bashier, at Eora TAFE, Chippendale and other TAFE and public events/gig within and around the Sydney Community such as graduations, weddings and functions. More recently, Nathan has returned from touring France performing the didgeridoo along side Internationally known didge (didjeridu) players William Barton, Roy Newman and Arnhem Land?s Yalakun dancers. The tour began in mid December 2005 performing in 4 cities ? Caen (Normandie), Ch?lon-en-Champagne (Champagne), Grenoble (French Alps) and Paris.

He has also performed and recorded songs with Jaclyn Extreme, Radical Son, Rhubee Neale and Kenneth Smith at events and venues such as NAIDOC Week 2004/5, The Sandringham Hotel in Newtown, The Harp in Tempe and other venues around Sydney.

Nathan has studied music at Eora TAFE. At the moment, he is performing covers and originals, which he collaborated with other artists. The majority of the songs he performs are about his own experience, Indigenous issues and the plight of his people. Nathan uses music as a way of educating the world about his culture.

He draws his inspiration form many indigenous, non-indigenous and overseas artists such as Kev Carmody, Archie Roach, Tupac, B.B King and many more.

His aspiration is to do more touring of Europe, and the world, performing the didgeridoo and his own written material. Educating the world about the history and issues of his people.


Artist Profiles: Nabarlek Band

Nabarlek Band


Nabarlek Band come from a tiny community in central Arnhem Land (Manmoyi) where for over 15 years they had been rehearsing and practicing for the moment that they could produce their first album.

In 1985 the band consisted of two busted acoustic guitars and a set of upturned flour tins that served as drums, the band was mostly singers and dancers.

After a few years of struggling with inadequate instruments the band gave up their musical ambitions for a while and created a traditional dance troupe performing dreamtime stories at community festivals around the Top End.

As a dance troupe Nabarlek were very successful and after a few years were able to save enough money to buy the long sought after instruments, and the band was back.

With guitars keyboards and a real set of drums instead of upturned flour tins, they were now able to concentrate on their long held dream of becoming a serious band that would one day produce an album.

At the end of the millennium, Nabarlek, the garage band that never had a garage, had produced two recordings, with the help of Craig Pilkington of Audrey Studios Melbourne (who also produced the critically acclaimed debut album of Saltwater Band).

The album title Munwurrk means bushfire and it was suggested to the band from the old people in their community, that, that should be the title of the album, as bushfire is essential to the existence of the people as it helps in the hunting of the kangaroo and it brings renewal to the country.

The album title Bininj Manborlh or “Blackfella Road” has more traditional songs, all with their own style of this Western Arnhemland rock band.

The songs on the albums have been derived from traditional stories and songs. Nabarlek are another band in a long history of contemporary Aboriginal bands that have rewritten their traditional stories into songs with contemporary instrumentation. Their songs help strengthen traditional culture by passing onto the next generation the lessons of life in a rock and roll format that is able to compete with the influence of western rock music.

Nabarlek set out in 2001 to become a serious band on the Australian music scene, and to emulate the success of bands such as Warumpi and Yothu Yindi and present Aboriginal culture through music that will find a place in the mainstream, and help take their culture to their children and the children of the world.

Nabarlek have toured extensively, starting with the Adelaide Festival and have completed overseas performances in Germany.


Artist Profiles: Monsieur Camembert

Monsieur Camembert

With a vibrant, contemporary edge, triple ARIA Award winning group Monsieur Camembert has been described as eclectic, virtuosic, theatrical and irreverent. Fusing the wild rhythms of Eastern Europe with tango and Latin music, swing, jazz, klezmer, tarantella and French Musette, Monsieur Camembert?s shows have become synonymous with an atmosphere of celebration and spontaneity. This is gutsy, emotive and irresistibly danceable music, played with originality, virtuosity, sensuality and flair.

The most successful world music band in Australian music history, the core group has been performing for more than seven years and has gained a wide audience at a range of events, including national and international music festivals, concert halls, various performing arts and jazz venues, including the Sydney Opera House, The Basement and the Art Gallery of NSW and celebrity weddings. In 2000, they were a featured act at the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony and were broadcast on ABC Radio National’s live concert series: ?Live On Stage? three times.

Performances over the past few years have included the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, three sell-out concerts in Paris, WOMADelaide in South Australia and Woodford in Queensland, Port Fairy Festival, Brunswick Music Festival, Ohel Leah?s Centenary celebrations in Hong Kong, St Kilda Festival in Melbourne and Bellingen Global Carnival.

The group has also devised a full-length show Just a Gigolo based on the life and music of Louis Prima, which played to sell-out audiences in Sydney and the Gold Coast. In 2003, they released their third CD, Absynthe, which has now been on the Australian Jazz Charts for a record-breaking 105 Weeks, after more than 6 months at the No.1 position. Absynthe won an ARIA AWARD for Best World Music album. This followed on from their 2002 win in the same category for their Live on Stage CD.

2005 highlights have included a Best World Music Album ARIA for their new double self-titled CD Monsieur Camembert, performances at the Mosaic Festival in Singapore, the Toyota Muster in Queensland, headlining the Cygnet Festival in Tasmania, and the Sydney premiere of a Leonard Cohen tribute show. Plans for 2006 include recording, national touring, festival appearances throughout Australia, performances in New Zealand and a follow up European tour.


Live @ The Basement (1999)
Live on Stage (2001)
Absynthe (2003)
Monsieur Camembert (2005)
Famous Blue Cheese – the Leonard Cohen Show (2007)


Artist Profiles: Mark Atkins

Mark Atkins

Mark Atkins is a descendant from the Yamitjti people of Western Australian and Irish-Australian heritage. Mark is a master of the didgeridoo, a storyteller, song writer, drummer and visual artist.

Acknowledged as one of Australia’s finest didgeridoo players, Mark Atkins is also recognized internationally for his collaborative projects with some of the world’s leading composers and musicians such as Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel, Philip Glass, Ravi Shankar, Sinead O’Connor, Australian icons James Morrison, Jenny Morris, John Williamson and Gondwana and many more.

Mark has featured with the London Philharmonic at a Festival Hall concert, London in 1996. He is also a prolific instrument maker, making and painting didjeridoos from the logs he collects on trips into the bush north west of his home town of Tamworth, New South Wales.

Mark is the founding member of “Kooriwadjula” (literally black man/ white man) a contemporary/traditional performance group that performs widely in festivals, rock venues, universities and schools, touring nationally and internationally.

Mark has a long history of performances in Australia including the outdoor venues and major festivals. Internationally his accredited performances include the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, the Heidelberg Festival, Expo ’92 Seville in Spain, Festival Hall with the London Philharmonic and many show in Europe including the 1998 Rudolstat Tanz and Folk Festival. In 1999 he was invited to WOMAD (Seattle, USA) as visual artist and musician and in 2000 recorded and released ?Ankala & World Orchestra? in Europe on the Network Label. Also in 2000 Mark was a featured artist at the Presentation of the Olympic Team in Belgium at the Memorial IvoVan Danne.

In 1993 Mark joined the cross-art form, cross-cultural performance ensemble REM Theatre to help creating the megamedia event ICON for the Sydney Opera House 20th Birthday Celebrations. He performed a body of original work with the SBS Youth Orchestra and The Sydney Philharmonic, as well as performing on the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Subsequently he received a fellowship from the NSW Ministry for the Arts and continued to work with REM Theatre Company as a musician, composer and music director on a number of productions including Story of the Firechild, Music Tree, Buralga and Kickin’ Up the Dust. In 1999 Mark toured in Europe with a new music theatre creation by REM Theatre called ToteMMusic which premiered at the prestigious Lucerne International Music Festival in Switzerland and showcased in Australia at the 2000 Performing Arts Market.

In 2000 Mark has featured with Charlie McMahon and Gondwana band at the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Sydney. In 2001 Mark has toured with ConSpiritOz with Musica Viva to Malaysia and with his own band in Europe. In July he featured at an Australian Festival produced by Seoul Arts Centre in Korea and world premiered his partnership with Phillip Glass in Melbourne at the Melbourne Town Hall and in New York at the Lincoln Center. He was invited to stay in New York and record as session musician on Godfrey Reggio’s next Glass collaboration Nongysqatsi.

As an artist Mark has exhibited in Japan, Europe, and USA both in contemporary and traditional styles.

Mark has numerous recordings and compositions to his credit and is a regular on the Qantas inflight entertainment program. His awards and achievements include the Golden Didjeridoo for the Tamworth Festival. His next project will be a picture disc vinyl in which he mix all his arts: painting, music & narration, coming out at the end of 2006 in collaboration with Maguari Productions.


Artist Profiles: Kerrianne Cox

Kerrianne Cox

Kerrianne Cox is one of Australia’s premier Indigenous artists. Repeatedly nominated for both state and national accolades, Kerrianne Cox has the voice of a seasoned professional and a set of original songs to match. Simply playing a 6-string guitar, the beauty and depth of her lyrics move audiences everywhere.

Kerrianne’s songs are a mix of country/folk/blues and her vocal technique has been compared to such greats as Billie Holiday, Joan Armatrading and Tracy Chapman. Kerrianne pens the majority of her own songs. The lyrics for her music emerge from her own life experiences, including love, family life and her strong connection to the land. Kerriannes heritage is an inspiration to her songs and she states, “I want to touch people with my songs, not just as an indigenous person, but as a human being. ”

Kerrianne Cox has steadily built a national and international profile. 2000 saw her successfully touring the USA and New Caledonia, and being invited back to the Pacific region; 2001 is showcasing in Canada and returning to the USA on invitation until October. Kerrianne has played nearly every major Folk Festival in Australia, including Port Fairy, Woodford, the National as well as The Sydney Mardi Gras. Kerrianne won ‘The Next Big Thing’ competition, having competed against nearly every unsigned act in the State of Western Australia; and has been nominated every year, since her emergence in 1996, for The Deadly Awards (awarding excellence in Indigenous music and culture), only being pegged by platinum selling pop acts. That a solo singer/songwriter from the very isolated northwest region of Australia can take such an award from seasoned bands gigging in the city areas proves the professionalism and presence that this young woman exudes on stage.

Kerrianne Cox recorded her second album at her home in Broome, Western Australia. Chris Dickie (Morrissey, The Pogues, Ricki Lee Jones) produced the album, which has a beautiful natural acoustic feel to it, making it very different from the smooth, polished sound of her first album ‘Just Wanna Move’. Talent from all over Australia flew to isolated Broome for this very special project, which should be formally released later in 2001 under the title ‘Openings’.

Kerrianne regularly conducts workshops teaching songwriting and tradition. She has a relaxed and open attitude to which people naturally gravitate towards, and has great success involving healing workshops with women and youth everywhere. Her debut album Just Wanna Move was independently released in 1999 in Australia.


Just Wanna Move (1999)
Opening (2001)
Return to Country (2006)


Artist Profiles: Gummilaroi Yanni Yuligdi

Gummilaroi Yanni Yulidgi takes great pleasure in being able to bring the beauty of Aboriginal Culture to the world. The traditional dances and ceremony presented are representations of Dreaming stories and ceremony.

The Dreaming of Australian Aboriginal people tell of the era of creation when the world and all the features of the land were formed by Ancestral Beings, and as the land is continually changing the Dreaming continues. These Ancestral Beings sometimes assumed animal or human form or appeared as forces of nature. They interacted with one another and left their distinctive tracks in the form of hills, rivers, water holes and other features of the landscape, wherever they traveled. Ancestral Beings also established laws for human interaction and proper conduct in Aboriginal society.

Stories of the Ancestors have been passed down for countless generations in song and dance. Dance styles vary across Australia, and is a telling example of the diversity in traditional Aboriginal culture.

Gummilaroi Yanni Yulidgi’s dances are about connecting to spirituality and the land, hunting and gathering food, and family life. They paint their bodies with ocher (soft stones ground up) to depict their totems and clan affiliations. Gummilaroi Yanni Yulidgií¹s costumes consist of kangaroo skin belts or woven hair belts, and headdresses decorated with Emu feathers, seeds, beads and shells. The men wear lap lap (a cotton loincloth) and the women wear black dresses underneath their belts.  They also use spears, boomerangs, coolamons, traditional dance sticks, and other artifacts to tell the stories through their dances.

Gummilaroi Yanni Yulidgi use boomerangs, clap sticks, didjeridu and body percussion to add the music to their dances. The didjeridu is a branch of a tree that has been hollowed out by termites; the branch is cut down and cleaned. A mouthpiece is created using native bees wax, and the instrument is played by blowing into it using recycled breathing. The didjeridu is only played by Aboriginal men, and is not a traditional instrument of the Gummilaroi people, having been traded into the nation in fairly recent times. Hence only some of Gummilaroi dances have the didjeridu as an accompaniment.

Gummilaroi Yanni Yulidgi also present various workshops, lectures and activities including Traditional life and culture, Contemporary History and impact of colonization including The Stolen Generations, Native Title and Land Rights, Health etc. Original Theater, Children¹s Activities including Dreaming Stories, ocher face painting, arts and crafts, Artifact and tool making and demonstrations, Boomerang throwing, Traditional fire making, Installation art, Art exhibitions, Museum quality exhibitions.


Artist Profiles: Gina Williams

Gina Williams

For over two decades, Gina Williams has been dedicated to the telling of her people’s stories. Gina is a Balladong Noongar woman, with links through her grandmother’s line to the Kija people of the East Kimberley.

Trained as a journalist, Gina spent eight years at the helm of the Milbindi television series, a show that highlighted positive achievements of the West Australian Indigenous community.

Nowadays the mother of two is away from the camera, but her storytelling continues through music. And what nobody realized was Gina had a remarkable story of her own to tell.

Gina has had a life punctuated by devastation and dysfunction. Adopted at birth, Gina’s beloved adoptive father died just three weeks after she turned 12. After two different foster families, Gina was able to take control of her own destiny, getting a job in the media.

Gina is happily married with two children and uses the traditions of her elders (songs and spoken word) to take audiences on this amazing journey of proud Aboriginal woman who has struggled through the dysfunction stemming from her past and embraced the hope of her future.

She won numerous awards: Indigenous category, 2001 WA Song Contest, Winner: 2003 Kiss My WAMI, Most Popular Local Original Indigenous Act, Support: Wendy Matthews, Joe Camilleri, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter, and Dave Steele, Headline Artist: Indigenous Showcase (2003 Perth International Arts Festival) Artist: 2004 WAMI Weekender and launch of the WAM Hall of Fame, Headline Artist: 2004 National NAIDOC Awards and Gala Ball, Headline Artist: 2005 Rotorua International Festival of Arts, Te Ihi – Te Wehi, Finalist: 2005 WAMI Awards, Best Indigenous Act.