Acclaimed First Nations Artists Gather For Music and Storytelling in WARRIORS

The performance is on Wednesday 31 July in the Concert Hall.

By: Apr. 19, 2024
Acclaimed First Nations Artists Gather For Music and Storytelling in WARRIORS
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Queensland Performing Arts Centre has announced the world premiere of the First Nations contemporary music event Warriors as part of Clancestry on Wednesday 31 July in the Concert Hall.

Warriors will feature four exceptional First Nations musical acts – Andrew Gurruwiwi Band, J-MILLA, JUNGAJI and Radical Son. Each musical outfit will draw on their own personal journey with mental health, weaving their stories together through visual recordings while performing a selection from their incredible catalogue of music alongside new work.

Andrew Gurruwiwi Band is a high-energy, eight-piece funk band who have honed their chops on the beach at Birrtjimi and in the dirt of Yirrkala, a remote Northern Territory community in Northeast Arhnem Land.

The band is led by Andrew Gurruwiwi, a shy-but-extravagant, blind, keytar-wielding Yolngu elder with a passion to make people dance while sharing his culture. The collective writes funk jams in their native tongue, Yolngu Matha.

“Warriors is a special thing to be invited to take part in; to be side-by-side with other fierce First Nations musicians, in such a beautiful space like QPAC,” he said.

“We're excited to be there, to share our story, to support one another and show our respect to all the First Nations people in this country.

“There's something special about music, how it can make Yolŋu (people) feel happy. It has the power to connect and to fill people's hearts with the stories the music carries.”

J-MILLA is a proud member of the Marranungu people, the traditional landowners of the Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory. J-MILLA’s passion for writing lyrics and telling his own stories came from seeing the power of narrative in hip-hop and its influence on those around him, mainly his brothers and sister.

“Music is medicine and for me is the best way to express my emotions,” he said.

“I love how much music connects people together. No matter what culture or colour, music will unite everyone as one. It’s amazing to share stories and learn from each other.”

J-MILLA made his Clancestry debut in 2023 and said he’s happy to be returning to this much-loved event.

“I’m excited to share my music with a new audience and have the place pumping. Last year, I performed on the Mob Music Stage in Clancestry 2023, and I’m so excited to perform in the Concert Hall this time. It’ll be a whole different energy,” he said.

“I’m so honoured to be able to support mental health through music and share stories that many people can relate with.”

JUNGAJI, a Gu Gu Yalanji songman, visual artist, playwright, and activist, previously known as Troy Brady, also joins the Warriors line-up with his unique R&B and soul sound that showcases his cultural roots.

After undergoing a deep cultural transformation, JUNGAJI has found a profound understanding.

“It’s a blessing to talk about mental health, the black dog. You know its impacts and how it affects our community, and it doesn’t discriminate. To sing about that on stage, to have the illuminating conversations and putting in place measures to ensure that the losses within our community are minimised - it’s a place of responsibility,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to sharing our stories at QPAC. It’s going to be sincere, it’s going to be honest, there’s going to be some tears, there’s going to be some laughs, there’s going to be some truth-telling exchanges and conversations, and I will be counting my sleeps leading up to when we all get together.”

David Leha, known as Radical Son, is one of the mightiest voices and most compelling performers currently rising on the Australian concert, festival, and dramatic stage. A Kamilaroi man with Tongan heritage, his work draws immense power and resolve from a challenging past and a style that melds the urgency of hip-hop and the emotional punch of soul.

“I really wanted to be part of this great showcase of artists,” he said.

“I believe men’s business is important today and that it has always been an essential part of Aboriginal culture.”

Warriors is under the banner of Clancestry, a celebration of First Nations arts and culture for community to come together to create, connect, and share. The program of events is proudly curated and run by Australian First Nations People, and this year marks the 11th anniversary since the first Clancestry at QPAC in 2013.

QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas celebrated the return of Clancestry in 2024 recognising the outstanding musicianship of the four artists featured in Warriors.

“Clancestry brings with it a rich cultural heritage that encourages the community to come together to celebrate, learn and connect through the performing arts,” he said.

“Warriors is a great opportunity to experience these bold, acclaimed First Nations artists sharing their successes, struggles and aspirations with QPAC audiences.

“We love that the arts provides different avenues like this to promote discussion around important social issues such as mental health.”

Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said Clancestry is a signature event on Queensland’s cultural calendar.

“Now in its eleventh year, Clancestry is an important platform for emerging and established First Nations performers to engage a wider audience, while celebrating ancient heritage and supporting truth-telling and healing on the Path to Treaty,” Ms Enoch said.

“Clancestry, delivered by QPAC, supports our 10-year Creative Together strategy, providing opportunities for First Nations artists to embrace the global stage at the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Also joining the 2024 Clancestry program is Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Horizon in the QPAC Playhouse from 8 to 17 August.

In Bangarra’s first mainstage cross-cultural collaboration, leading Māori choreographer and Arts Laureate Moss Te Ururangi Patterson joins beloved Bangarra alumna Deborah Brown to guide the award-winning ensemble in stories that honour their respective mother countries and the spirit that calls them home.

Additional 2024 Clancestry performances and events to be announced soon. Clancestry will run from Tuesday 30 July 2024.


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