The Brag Media
Features March 7, 2017

Meet the Desert Divas: Indigenous women in Australian music share their stories

Poppy Reid
Meet the Desert Divas: Indigenous women in Australian music share their stories

On the back of International Women’s Day, eight talented Aboriginal women from the top end of Australia will release Desert Divas Volume II on Friday March 17.

The release is part of Music NT’s music development program, and is an important celebration of talent from remote NT communities. The Divas were partnered with mentors including Nai Palm (Hiatus Kaiyote), Leah Flanagan, Dallas Frasca and Helpmann Award winner Ursula Yovich at CAAMA Studios in Alice Springs, where they recorded with Anna Laverty (Florence + The Machine, Nick Cave, Courtney Barnett).

The Desert Divas are Shana Ray, Eleanor Dixon, Miranda Garling, Jillian Moody, Kiriz Oliver, Bronwyn Stuart, Rita Tomlins and Casii Williams, and we caught up with Dixon and Williams to talk about the issues surrounding Aboriginal women in Australian music.

What’s your personal experience as an indigenous female in the music industry been like?

Eleanor Dixon: It’s been a journey for me. I have had to travel away from home for a while. The most challenging thing for me was doing music on my own, as a young indigenous woman who lives out bush. I had to take the opportunity to share the stage with my dad as well, but having time to experience a few ways has made the journey now a bit easier. I love what I do so I enjoy every moment. I have noticed a few big changes where there are more indigenous women coming out. The Desert Divas is one to look at, for example, so it’s been a pleasure to get to this point.

Casii Williams: Growing up in a remote community and being surrounded by only male musicians was what I thought music was about, just for men. As [I was] getting older, my father made me make my own path in the music industry. It has always been a challenge maintaining a band because of cultural reasons. And now where I am in music I want to be a role model for young/older musicians to see that music is for anyone and everyone.

Are there any sectors of the music industry that could be doing better when it comes to equality?

ED: Yeah, I mean the music industry has still got a long way to go about learning and introducing equality, but right now i think it’s alright. I think that more indigenous music – especially the indigenous women in the industry – are to be taken seriously, because the importance of understanding culture and equality is [to be found] in that direction.

CW: No. The music industry is very good when it comes to equality.

What would you like to see more of from the local music industry to create gender diversity?

ED:  I honestly think that more indigenous women are making a mark and so the industry itself is starting to recognise that, so I would definitely like to see more support in that.

Desert Divas Volume II

Desert Divas Volume II is out Friday March 17. Find out more info through Facebook.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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