Sounds of AustraNesia

January 13th, 2014

Story and photos by Mark Graham

There is a new music group that has been formed in Cairns called Sounds of AustraNesia. A choir and band if you like. This ensemble originally came about as the brain child of Will Kepa and Rubina Kimiia, who are both the co-founders. They have performed 3 shows in Cairns as part of the Cairns Festival, and also the album launch that happened at the Tanks Arts Centre in Cairns Far North Queensland back on June the 15th.

This project to bring so many talented artists together in to a group that shows the multi-cultural diversity that resides in Cairns. It was led by Will Kepa who has been involved with a number of other projects namely the Listen Up and Listen Up 2 projects, which bought emerging artists together from Cairns, Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands, and has produced to compilations, and also launched the careers of a number of FNQ’s Indigenous artists.

Mr Kepa says, “this one seems to stand out a lot for me, as it has been a personal journey, for Rubina and myself.” Mr Kepa also talks about how the project came about. “It was born out of a project that we were asked to put together for the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair in 2012. Basically is a multi-cultural, multi-diverse all Indigenous choir, backed by an all-acoustic traditional and contemporary instrumentation band.”

There are 15 members that make up the choir, and 5 or 6 members that make up the band which all comes together as Sounds of AustraNesia. All the members of the band and choir all come from either Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Papua New Guinean, Polynesian and Melanesian backgrounds. Artists include the likes of Troy ‘Jungali’Brady, Rochelle Pitt-Watson, La-Donna Hollingsworth, Mayella Dewis, Nicole Lampton, Merindi Schrieber, Ben Hakalitz, Nikki Doll, Rubina Kimiia, Danny Bani, Steve Tofa, Peta Tautu, Edward Lampton, Will Kepa and Trevelyn Brady.

The songs that are performed by Sounds of AustraNesia, and you can hear on the self-titled album, all come from the members of the choir. As you look at the names of these artists that make up the choir, if you know your music from Far North Queensland you will know that they are either established or emerging artists or are artists in their own rights.

Danny Bani whose definitely a talent that was launched through the Listen Up 2 project is also part of Sounds of AustraNesia. Mr Bani describes the experience as, “it’s amazing, it’s the best feeling ever to come together with these guys.” Mr Bani goes onto say, “being like an upcoming artist here in Cairns, to know people like Will Kepa and Dave Dow and to have them take me under their wings is like the best feeling ever. It’s like we are family”.

If you get the chance to see this amazing group of artists are coming to a town near you as they are looking at touring. Definitely take the time to check them out. You won’t be disappointed. But for the in-between time, check out their website and buy a cd.