Mission Songs

Mission Songs

Near-forgotten songs will be brought to life when the national and international tour of Jessie Lloyd’s Mission Songs Project makes its way north to Cairns on March 14.

Taking place at Tanks Arts Centre in Edge Hill, Mission Songs Project features old and rare songs gathered from members of the Stolen Generations who were forcibly taken to live on missions and reserves across Australia.

The project reveals what daily life was like for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians on Christian missions and state-run settlements.

Originally from tropical North Queensland, Jessie Lloyd is a multi-talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vocalist, musician and cultural practitioner who performs a broad collection of Australian Indigenous songs.

“Mission Songs Project started out of curiosity of what songs our people were singing in the missions’ era in the first half of the 20th Century; on settlements, reserves and missions; it’s what they were singing after church that inspired me,” Jessie said.

“It painted a picture of those days no-one really talked about.”

Performed by an extraordinary trio of Indigenous musicians led by Jessie, the project is infused with Islander rhythms, folk and a little country ‘n western, complete with story-telling that brings to life the voices of Elders as they would around a campfire or kitchen table.

In developing the collection of songs for the performance project, Jessie travelled extensively, visiting communities from Perth to Palm Island to hear their stories and learn these near-forgotten songs.

“It was a privilege for me to meet with community in Port Augusta who have direct ties to the Umeewarra Mission,” Jessie said.

“Hearing from Elders and Aboriginal people opened up whole new conversations. I love travelling and hearing people’s yarns. It’s a part of Australian history, a part of our modern Aboriginality.”

Commenting on the performance project, Patron and Project Adviser Archie Roach, AM, said, “Mission Songs Project presents contemporary folk songs that continue the ancient song lines of this country. The songs speak of the daily lives of the First Peoples who were relocated from their traditional homelands to the missions”.

Mission Songs Project by Jessie Lloyd will be performed at Tanks Arts Centre on 14 March. Tickets available through Ticketlink

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