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Always Was, Always Will Be: First Nations artists celebrated with original music presented by Adelaide Festival Centre

BY Adelaide Festival Centre | 06-Jul-2020
Adelaide Festival Centre is bringing together some of South Australia’s most talented musicians to celebrate original music and mark what would have been NAIDOC Week 2020.
Always Was - Always Will Be
Nancy Bates, Arnold Baird and Jessica Wishart - photo credit BASEM3NT Studios
Originally scheduled for July 5 to 12, the nationwide event celebrates the heritage, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It has been postponed until November 8-15 in light of community health and safety risks posed by COVID-19.

In the meantime, Adelaide Festival Centre is launching a virtual event featuring accomplished singer-songwriters Jessica Wishart, Nancy Bates, Corey Theatre and Nathan May — along with young upcoming rapper J-MILLA, whose debut single My People has so far exceeded 120,000 views on YouTube.

Each artist has written new music in response to this year’s NAIDOC Week theme: Always Was, Always Will Be. Daily posts on the Festival Centre’s Facebook page until Friday will begin with an original song performed by Jessica Wishart, a Bidjara woman who recently released Colours, the first single from her debut full-length album.

Nancy Bates, a Barkindji woman and a prolific vocalist, said: “These songwriting opportunities created for First Nations artists facilitate the inclusion of important narratives from South Australia about the theme Always Was, Always Will Be. Our voices through song affirm our sovereignty, and these songs are essential to the Australian musical landscape. Through song, truth can prevail and hearts finally listen.”

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier AM said the online offering was developed in partnership with UNESCO City of Music and received funding support from Adelaide Festival Centre’s CentrED program, the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation and the State Government’s Music Development Office Project Support Grants Program:

“First Nations artists are an essential element of South Australia’s vibrant music scene, and Adelaide Festival Centre is honoured to be a platform for showcasing these artists’ talents as musicians and storytellers. This week’s virtual events will celebrate five very gifted musicians who have written powerful new songs exploring their personal beliefs, experience and cultural history. It is really heartening to see musicians continuing to create and share new work in spite of the current constraints on collaboration and performances.”

Office of Adelaide UNESCO City of Music Director Rebecca Pearce: “Adelaide is Australia’s only UNESCO City of Music – recognised for the breadth, depth and vibrancy of the city’s music culture and history. During NAIDOC Week we celebrate the culture and achievements of all First Nation peoples, and especially acknowledge their rich musical history. While this year’s NAIDOC Week can’t happen until November, we are excited to share this series of performances by some of South Australia’s most powerful performers.”

Videos will be posted to facebook.com/FestivalCentre as well as The Show Must Go On, Adelaide Festival Centre’s collection of online interviews and performances.