post Local Adnyamathanha muso’s join Yarnballa Festival lineup

September 24th, 2008

Filed under: Arts,Events — newseditor @ 11:57 am

The Adnyamathanha Women’s Choir will be taking the Yarnballa Festival stage at sunset, and look who else is in the mix – the irrepressible Ken McKenzie. 


Musicians and songwriters taking part in the Yarnballa Festival Music Workshops in Port Augusta are writing a song to capture the spirit of Yarnballa that will be performed at the Festival’s opening ceremony on the shores of the Spencer Gulf.

Under the guidance of acclaimed singer/songwriter Sonny Keeler, who is conducting songwriting classes as part of the six-week workshop, the local muso’s are developing an anthem for South Australia’s first Indigenous Arts and Culture Festival.

“It started out as an exercise in songwriting but now it’s taken on a life of it’s own,” said Keeler who hails from Ceduna on South Australia’s West Coast. “We wanted to express something that reflected what Yarnballa is all about,” he said.

Yarnballa is a Nukunu word meaning “together in company” and was chosen because it relates to the 27 different language groups that make up the Port Augusta Aboriginal community. “This is a festival that is aimed at bringing people together and celebrating what we have in common as Indigenous Australians rather then what makes us different,” said Artistic Director Diat Alferink.

So far, 23 singers, rappers and musicians have joined in the workshop program and contributed to the development of the song. Tentatively titled “As One” the song speaks about the people of the land sharing their spirit and walking with their ancestors towards a harmonious existence. “I was amazed at how the lyrics came together,” said Keeler. “We had about 20 people in a room and everyone just threw in ideas and someone started writing lines on a whiteboard and then everyone was writing verses furiously,” he said.

Two days later the group was in the studio at Umeewarra Media recording a demo version of the song. “It’s sounding great but it’s still not finished,” said Keeler. “We’ll be adding some more verses as the workshop continues over the next month or so,” he said. “You might hear the demo version on the National Indigenous Radio Service over the next few weeks but during the festival we plan to record the final version for national release,” Keeler said.

Yarnballa Arts and Cultural Festival takes place in Port Augusta from October 23 to 26 and it’s planned to become an annual event run by Umeewarra Aboriginal Media Association. “We’re planning a big extravaganza for the festival opening where all the artists who are in town to perform at the main concert will join together with the Adnyamathanha Women’s Choir on the foreshore at sunset,” said Ms Alferink. For full details of the Festival go to

1 Comment

  1. had a barbie with some of the people who went to the festival…they had a great time, although it was very hot. Unfortunately Uncle Ken wasn’t there as Margaret was ill. The women’s and children’s Adnyamuthanha choir sang at the festival and did well, I believe. Hope someone has some photos!!!

    Comment by di — October 28, 2008 @ 9:19 pm

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