Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Emma Donovan To Headline Burdekin Theatre’s First Foyer Session

Country soul queen and revered Indigenous singer songwriter Emma Donovan has released her highly anticipated new album ‘Til My Song is Done’ and is celebrating with a regional Australian tour bringing her to the Burdekin Theatre on Saturday, May 4.
‘Til My Song is Done’ is seen as a return home for Emma, getting back to the sounds of country and her creative and performing roots, conveying a musical journey from singing those big country numbers as a kid, to joining her family performing church songs at community funerals, to the kitbag of skills picked up her over later collaborations in funk, soul, and R&B.
Burdekin Life Journalist Chelsea Ravizza got the opportunity to ask Emma a few questions about the new album and her return to the Burdekin for Foyer Sessions.

What does having your new music recorded in Gumbaynggirr and Noongar languages mean to you as both an artist and an Indigenous woman yourself?
My newest solo album features a song sung in Gumbaynggirr. I translated ‘In The Sweet By & By’ with the help of members of my Nambucca community. I try to translate a lot of tunes this way in language, it helps me learn it more myself.
I never grew up speaking language, neither did my mother and her parents. It was my great grandparents that were fluent. It’s very empowering for my family to share our language and to share it with the wider Gumbaynggirr community as well. It’s my contribution to continue sharing language.

What led you to want to hold a regional tour? What pulled you to the Burdekin?
The tour came together through HIT Productions. I’m happy to tour any regional places as I grew up in regional country towns. So I know how important it is to travel to regional towns and play music. I’m grateful too for my music to be heard on regional radio.

How did you begin your music career and find your passion for sharing traditional languages through your work?

I grew up in a very musical family thanks to my grandparents, my Mum and my uncles who all played music. I’m very lucky and grateful for my family who raised us knowing music is a key to our life.
I began listening to artists like Angélique Kidjo and Salif Keita when I was very young. I enjoyed listening to songs in languages that I didn’t understand.
Later on, I listened to First Nations singer songwriters such as Frank Yamma and Christine Anu. Yothu Yindi was also a huge inspiration for me to include language in my music. All these artists opened the doors for sharing Indigenous languages in music.

What do you hope for your audience to take away from your Burdekin show?

Just joy, and for audiences to have a connection to my stories. I believe my songs have meaning and messages for all.

What are your future plans for your musical career and your passion for sharing traditional languages?

Sharing more, especially engaging in children’s songs & language. I didn’t have language growing up so I ensured that my own kids have the opportunity to hear and connect to my songs and story lines that share places and specific country that they have a connection to.

Emma will headline the first ever Foyer Session at Burdekin Theatre which will include her trademark soul/country songs and new music recorded in Gumbaynggirr and Noongar languages.
As one of the proud First Nations artists spearheading efforts to put traditional languages on the music map, she will share stories, providing her audiences with an understanding of Country and community.

WHAT: Foyer Sessions with Emma Donovan
WHEN: Saturday, May 4 from 7:30pm
WHERE: Burdekin Theatre

Emma Donovan is playing Foyer Sessions at the Burdekin Theatre on Saturday, May 4. Photo credit: Ian Laidlaw
Emma’s new album ‘Til My Song is Done’ is out now

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