The Umbrella Festival, in its debut year, is a live music festival presented by Music SA, which is giving local musicians the opportunity to display their unique talents at equally unusual venues.
One of those talented artists taking part in this wonderful new festival is Nine News journalist Jessica Braithwaite.
Hosted by Nine Network, Jessica, with support from Thom Lion (Thom Lion and the Tamers), Joe Braithwaite (Lowrider, Ripley) and Sean Braithwaite (Gemini Downs) will present Sunsongs, a musical and visual journey from country SA to Africa.
After spending some time in an orphanage in Africa, Jessica decided to dedicate her event at Umbrella Festival to raising money, with 100% of tickets sales going to the Holy Family Care Centre in Southern Africa.
We spoke with Jessica about her experiences in Southern Africa and her decision to use her music to raise awareness and much needed funds.
“I spent the back end of last year volunteering at a remote orphanage near the border of South Africa and Zimbabwe. The orphanage is run by my dad’s cousin, an incredible Adelaide woman named Sally Duigan, who has been living there helping the people of the region for more than 30 years,” she says.
“I got to a stage in my life where I wanted to do a little more living and giving, so I quit my job presenting weather for Sky News nationally and set off. I held music classes with the kids, started a choir and also learned how to run the orphanage AIDS clinic. I learned so much from the children and will forever admire their resilience and positivity. I think they taught me far more than I ever could have taught them.
“Now that I’m back in Australia, I think about the kids every day. This is my way of being able to help them still. They loved music so much, so it’s beautiful to to be able to use music to help them in their lives.”
Held on Friday, 22 July at 8pm at Nine Network (Level 2, 169 Pirie St, Adelaide), Sunsongs will be a gig with a twist – a tap twist!
“I’ve been describing my music as folkie/cutsie pop. I’ll be playing guitar, piano and even bringing out the tap shoes for some tap dancing percussion. Yes, I know that sounds random, but it’s actually really fun!” she laughs.
“I’m teaming up with three of my favourite people for the show: my cousin Joe Braithwaite, my brother Sean Braithwaite, and my boyfriend Thom Lion. I’m so lucky to have such incredible musicians in my life who were all happy to help out and get involved with such a great cause.”
With so much going on in Adelaide this time of year, finding a standout gig is a challenge, but Jessica promises a distinctively different show, which will be stacks of fun.
“This is a really unique show. It boasts the talents of four great performers, all bouncing off of each other in a kaleidoscope of stripped back fun. It is not just about standing up in front of people and singing songs. We will be telling stories and showing photos and videos, so the audience can become part of the story and know the moments that made the music,” she says.
“And of course, people can get behind a great cause and know that every single cent will go directly to the care centre in South Africa and help to improve the lives of beautiful children who so desperately need help.”
Grab your tickets to this remarkable event for a night of ‘living and giving’, as Jessica would say.
By Libby Parker