Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Using the power of music to unify humankind and celebrating the power of this unity as part of National Reconciliation Week 2019, Barkindji woman Nancy Bates, Bidjara woman Jessica Wishart (a rising country, folk and soul star), Lebanese Australian Emily Davis and European descendant and folk artist Tara Carragher come together to present to you a heartwarming and moving performance that will incorporate storytelling, song, and conversation. Through their performance, the four talented ladies hope to explore the meaning of reconciliation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and provide us with ways of achieving these significant goals in our society.
In anticipation of their upcoming performance at the Adelaide Festival Centre, I was fortunate enough to be able to conduct an e-interview with the ladies - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourselves, ladies? We are Adelaide-based singer/songwriters who came together while mentoring Jessica Wishart during the writing and production of her album last year. We decided to do put on a gig for Reconciliation Week 2018, an evening of our original songs that explored what Reconciliation meant to us after having spent time sharing with each other.
Tema: Who are the key people involved in the production of Women In Song? Nancy Bates, Emily Davis, Jessica Wishart and Tara Coates are working collaboratively to produce Women In Song. We have engaged Tara's husband Richard Coates to be the musical director, and we have an incredible musical ensemble to help us to tell our stories.
Tema: How did you decide on creating this show and taking it from a concept to a reality? Women in Song was originally developed as four women for Reconciliation Week 2018 for Nexus Arts. In its original concept, it was four women and four guitars. Terri from Adelaide Festival Centre was in the audience that night and wanted to support the show to be developed. The show we will be presenting this month will be a more developed version of that evening, with the addition of a four-piece band and more time to talk after the show during a Q&A session. This is an example of the arts industry getting out to see local talent and then supporting the growth and development of what is an important and original South Australian work.
Tema: How did you all meet and decide to collaborate on this show? We were all aware of each other in the industry, and Jessica Wishart was involved in a contemporary music development with Nexus Arts. Jessica brought us together as mentors on her album project last year. We started hanging out and sharing our songs.
Tema: What inspired you to share the stories that will be forming the pieces of this show? We have all drawn inspiration from each other's work – one woman plays an original song and then we respond to each other, not realising that our songs are already woven together in some way. One story and one song segue into the next. We are focused on the themes of truth, justice and hope.
Tema: How did you decide on the tunes to make the symbolism of the stories echo with power? It was clear that our original songs were powerful before we were able to share them with each other, and then weave those songs together. We chose the songs that had a relationship with each other, a common theme, and similar thread, or a song that upheld Reconciliation as an aspiration in our lives.
Tema: Who would you say is your target audience for the show? We are targeting children 12 years and older and everyone over that age.
Tema: What is the basic premise of your show (without giving too much away)? This show is about the unifying power of women's music – how music, and the message contained within the song, can bring about Reconciliation.
Tema: What can your audience expect from attending your show? A really special performance of exquisite music by Aboriginal women and women in the music industry who stand by them.
Tema: What are you hoping for your audience to experience from attending your show? Four of the city's songwriters standing side by side to explore what Reconciliation means to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and how we can work together to achieve it. We hope this is an insightful experience for the audience. We want to shine a light on what Reconciliation is, isn't and needs to be.
Tema: How did you get involved with the DreamBIG Children's Festival? Terri from Adelaide Festival Centre was in the audience when we presented Women in Song during Reconciliation Week 2018 at Nexus Arts. She connected us to the DreamBIG Children's Festival because she saw value in what we presented for young people and schools.
Tema: How does it feel, to be performing during a very important week (National Reconciliation Week)? How does this momentous milestone bear significance for yourselves and your careers? It is a defining moment for any performer to be engaged by the Adelaide Festival Centre to perform an original production. The fact that we have been invited to present during Reconciliation Week 2019 means that what we are singing about as a collective has real value to South Australia. It's a tough gig as women in music in SA to be valued, but we truly feel valued and recognised for making original music that has an impact. It's really emotional to think about the show and what it means for us and to our audience most importantly.
Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like our readers to know about you and your show? Tickets are selling fast, so book now – come along and be part of honouring National Reconciliation Week through song, storytelling and conversation.
Women In Song will be performing at the Adelaide Festival Centre, as part of the Dream BIG Festival on May 28, 2019. Book your tix here.