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News May 31, 2022

Emma Donovan Wins Fellowship at First Nations Arts Awards

Emma Donovan Wins Fellowship at First Nations Arts Awards
Pictured: Emma Donovan / Photographer: Martin Philbey

Soul singer-songwriter Emma Donovan won the First Nations Arts and Culture Fellowship, as part of the First Nations Arts Awards.

The event’s co-host Karla Grant explained that fellowship offers an “outstanding established artist” with support for two years to develop a major creative project or program.

Donovan will produce an album featuring songs for children in traditional language.

“I humbly receive this award on behalf of my grandparents’ legacy, for their music and their voice to continue through me,” Donovan said.

Her grandparents Micko and Aileen Donovan formed country band The Donovans, which consisted of their five sons and daughter Agnes.

Emma began singing periodically with them from the age of seven, with her mother encouraging her to enter talent competitions.

At the awards, Donovan and The Putbacks’ Tom Martin performed “Pink Skirt” from their 2020 “Crossover” album.

“This song tells the story of my grandmother, my mother, myself and my daughter,” she explained.

With lines like ‘Now I’ve got my daughter/ Standing strong like a Jirriga tree/ See I’ve been passing on these stories/ passing on my mother’s knowledge and Nanna’s things,’ it set up how the children’s album would be passing the torch.

In other wins, Hayden Ryan took the Emerging Career Development award.

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Music Industry at RMIT University last year, the award will assist him to study a Master of Music in Technology in New York, developing skills and knowledge surrounding multichannel and spatial audio, acoustics, and music programming.

“I will communicate my future research into the relationship that Aborigine people have with sonic and acoustic environments,” he said.

Bangarra’s artistic director Stephen Page and visual artist Destiny Deacon took the prestigious Red Ochre Award for lifetime achievement.

The Dreaming award for a young and emerging artist went to Brittanie Shipway who made her mark in musical theatre in New York, and Jazz Money, an artist and writer known for her poetry.

The First Nations Arts Awards are held each year on May 27, marking the anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the start of National Reconciliation Week.

They are broadcast by NITV and on the Australia Council website.

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