Redland Performing Arts Centre (RPAC) has partnered with notable Quandamooka singer/songwriter Adam James to create a new concert-length program called The Great First Nations Songbook.
The major new Indigenous two-year music project has received $160,000 through Arts Queensland’s First Nations Commissioning Fund with a further $28,403 given by Redland City Council to assist with further in-kind support, including venue and equipment hire, and RPAC staffing costs.
“Redlands Coast has a wealth of exceptional First Nations artists and we are very proud that this has been recognised at a state level through the funding support,” Mayor Karen Williams said.
“Artist development is crucial and we are very lucky to have such a high-quality performing arts centre on Redlands Coast that can support artists on their journey.
“Importantly, this project will also be used as a mentoring program for young Indigenous songwriters and musicians and offer them the opportunity to learn from Adam’s extensive career in the music industry.”
The project will draw together the talents of more than 20 artists and technicians and create a repertoire of 15 iconic works, including songs from Archie Roach, Emma Donovan, Dan Sultan, Jimmy Little, Jess Beck, Yothu Yindi, Leah Flanagan and Troy Cassar-Daley.
Adam said he was looking at bringing new shows to new audiences.
“There are all sorts of tribute shows and there is a feast of first nations music,” he said.
“This project will re-imagine the music in a new format.
“It will attract the diehard fans, but also expose a new audience to this music. It will be the first time the First Nation’s songbook has ever been done.
“This will give the songs a nice flavour – different sounds. It will turn something old into something new.”
Adam said the proposed show was both a hark back to familiar tunes audiences knew and loved and a revival of the old jazz crooners who defined mid-20th century popular music performed through the lens of First Nations’ experience.
Adam said the aim of the project was not to look at world music and that the use of language in this format was yet to be explored.
“This is contemporised music that people can readily understand,” he said.
Adam has been awarded $150,000 over two years, plus an additional $10,000 to commission new music, through the First Nations Commissioning Fund to bring the project to life.
He said the project would bring together the best of Indigenous Australian music and present it to new audiences.
The First Nations Commissioning Fund is supporting opportunities to share unique stories and cultural knowledge, and elevates the exceptional art works, experiences, music, dance, theatre and visual arts of First Nations artists and organisations in Queensland.