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New Ailan Songs Project - Four Winds album

[by Carolyn Logan]

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Image: supplied

The second major work from Australian Indigenous singer Jessie Lloyd following the success of her first work Mission Songs Project, Ailan Songs Project is a contemporarised exploration of popular historical songs from the Torres Straits. Bringing together ancient languages and historical events with tropical island reggae grooves.

The Torres Strait Islands are stepping stones that connect the northern tip of Australia to Papua New Guinea. Since the West's colonial expansion, the Torres Strait has been a major thoroughfare connecting the Pacific to the Indian ocean, critical for global trade. So for the last 150 years, there have been waves of influences and adaptations that make up the rich culture of Zenadth Kez, as its known to the islanders, and its memories and secrets are in its music.

Featuring songs from the pearling industry, popular childrens songs, songs about migration, military enlistment, maritime, railway and missionary activity, The Ailan Project is an important chronical of the history of  the indigenous peoples of Australia.

A composer, performer and creative entrepreneur, Jessie Lloyd is a songkeeper of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music and dedicated to the continuation of song traditions through the presentation of stories and songs.  

Jessie’s work continues the songlines of Indigenous Australia, a body of cultural songs that carries the 60,000-year history of the world’s oldest living culture. With this connection she engages her audiences through intimate storytelling, moving harmonies and historical insights.

 

Jessie has travelled in search of the origins of Torres Strait ‘ailan’ songs to present a 21st Century Indigenous narrative,  researching and collaborating with senior Torres Strait songwomen to compile an album of ‘ailan’ songs (island songs).

 

These are folk songs sung by families and communities of the various islands in their individual languages and dialects. The songs also tell of how islanders migrated to mainland Australia throughout the 20th century and their contribution to Australian society and its cultural identity.

Hailing from a musical family, Jessie’s father Joe Geia is a pioneer of Aboriginal protest songs and composed the Aboriginal anthem ‘Yil Lull’. Her grandfather Albie Geia was conductor of Palm Island Brass Band and leader of the historic 1957 Palm Island Strike. Jessie is a cultural practitioner of Australian Indigenous music and its song traditions.

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