This weekend, the inaugural Down by the River song writing project is set to acknowledge the diversity of Indigenous Australian languages.
A live music celebration presented by Semaphore Music Festival 2019 as part of Umbrella: Winter City Sounds, Down By The River features prominent Indigenous singer songwriters Frank Yamma, Vonda Last, and Corey Theatre in a performance aligning with the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages.
These important Aboriginal artists will share their culture through storytelling and song writing at Tandanya Ngunyawaiti Theatre, on Saturday 27 July at 2pm.
Semaphore Music Festival Founder and Director Deb Thorsen says the song writing project is an excellent opportunity to celebrate language, music and culture.
“It is an honour to work with these artists and see how they have developed over the years. I feel humbled and moved listening to their stories and songs,” she says.
With a stellar line up featuring Frank Yamma, a Pitjantjatjara man who speaks five languages and sings in both Pitjantjatjara and English; Vonda Last a Wongai woman with over 25 years of musical experience as a songwriter and performer whose work in community music has focused on the revival of Indigenous languages and cultural maintenance through composition of contemporary music; and Corey Theatre, a young Gunditjmara/Gunai Singer Songwriter who recently recorded his first album Ngathuk Ngalina, a collaborative journey of language revival and musical expression.
Through his song writing, Corey is helping to revive, preserve and maintain his Gunditjmara language and he says he is looking forward to being on the bill of this important event.
“These are some of the oldest languages in the world,” Corey says. “It’s a precious resource because it provides an insight into a different way of looking at the world. If we can maintain that, we can increase our broader knowledge and ways of looking at everything. Some people say song came before language; people sang before they spoke.
“Frank Yamma is one of the people that inspired me to write in language. I was learning some of his songs when I started. I’m really looking forward to working with Frank and Vonda.”
Down By The River will explore narratives around connection to country and family, merging cultures, friendship, transformation and reconciliation through the stories of these three South Australian based artists.
The Down By The River program launch takes place at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute on 27 July at 2pm, as part of Umbrella: Winter City Sounds.
Tickets available HERE