With national airplay on ABC and JJJ, three noms and a win at the Queensland Music Awards, not to mention instantaneous traction, there's a reason, well, several, why Emily Wurramara is soaring. Among these, Emily not only knows her craft, but leverages it to remind us; to remind us of our responsibility to steward our sacred land; challenging each of us to be more environmentally conscious. Whilst easy enough to dismiss Emily's stern environmental stances, be warned - this brave young warrior has her head on her shoulders, feet firmly planted. Intelligent, informed, unwavering. And not forgetting her passion, inherited from her elders, as explained to me during our chat. Then there's her campaigning, which includes spokesperson for Greenpeace. Using her platform to spread messages, whilst serving it up with a plateful of euphony - as provided in her exquisite new album, Milyakburra.
One of the songs from her new album, 'Ngarrikwujeyinama' (or 'I'm hurting'). Sung in Emily's native tongue, "an ode to how much pain we're inflicting on the land and the sea".
And then "Hey Love". Tranquil strumming, layered with Emily's sweet, soothing voice, juxtaposed with a heartfelt account of her mother suffering racial abuse, "Hey Love" is sublime, yet stirring.
Probing Emily's inner drives, she attributes it to her indigenous culture. Explaining, "Having that culture behind me, it inspires me. It inspires me to keep writing, and keep singing in language, because my culture is what makes me. And it's really important that I preserve that, and archive that. And not expose it, but promote it in a way where it's, I guess, what's that word...it's recognized, and appreciated". Emily's reverence for her background runs deep. Hence, big on respecting the advice and wisdom of her elders - "Before I say anything I always run it past my elders, to make sure I have permission first. That, to me, is important". Emily not only employs her cultural underpinnings, but pays homage - "I feel like my ancestors and my spirits are always with me, so I acknowledge them always. Constantly". Serving as a conduit between old and young, Emily remarking, "I have to keep myself...grounded to be able to have an influence on...the younger generation. That's important to me; to be a role model and to set an example for my people".
It's also that culture, one that maintains a longstanding tradition of environmental appreciation, that's equipped Emily with a deep understanding and strong sense of environmentalism - "I'm hugely influenced by nature, so I'm a naturalistic song-writer. And that just automatically comes because of the environment I've grown up around". Emily, steadfastly dedicating both her music and personal time to environmental plights and threats, such as her fight against mining, including seabed mining around Groote Eylandt, where she was raised - "I'm a huge advocate for protecting the land and the sea. And you know, it's just a reminder that not only are we custodians of the land; we're also custodians of the sea. And we have to take care of her too". Constantly developing her craft since the age of nine, plus her confidence to speak (or sing) her mind, Emily delivers fully on both counts. Not only an accomplished artist, with eight instruments under her belt, and a solemn yet delightfully heartwarming voice that sends shivers, but also a prudent messenger - "We can't change anything, unless we change ourselves first".