It's International Women's Day today and we thought we'd bring light to the amazing Desert Divas program, a partnership between established musicians and Aboriginal women in NT to develop their songwriting, share their stories through song and generally dip their feet into the music industry.
The MusicNT development program this year saw eight Desert Divas work with rocker Dallas Frasca to hone their songwriter skills — The Music spoke to Frasca about the rewarding experience.
She says she learned an incredible amount from the experience, the biggest being cultural awareness.
"The importance of preserving stories, culture and language far and wide across remote parts of Australia which can be done in the writing and recording of a song. The positive impact it can have on anyone when given a means to express themselves is inspiring and empowering for all involved. It’s a very special program, huge ups to Music NT," she said.
"I feel extremely grateful to have experienced the Desert Diva programs for the past 5 years and been able to be a part of some pretty incredible women’s journeys in finding their path in music."
We also touched base with Desert Divas Kiriz Oliver, Casii Williams, Mandy Garling and Eleanor Dixon to reflect on the experience.
Oliver says, "I learned about being involved with other people that share your passion for music is truly a privilege, I never thought I would be part of something as amazing as this program. As for performing, I learned that I still need more confidence in this area, I would love to perform, but I guess I’m too shy.
"I hope one day I could collaborate with maybe Dallas Frasca, I really learned a lot from her and I enjoy her music. She taught me how to really project my voice in terms of being loud and heard, especially when it comes to a song that needs to be powerful."
Williams echoed the desire to work with Frasca, stating, "I personally would like to see us one day performing alongside Dallas Frasca as she has been very involved with Desert Divas for years and has been very supportive no matter how busy her life is."
Garling, who is Jessica Mauboy's cousin, cites her famous relative as an inspiration and hopes to follow in her footsteps. "I have been apart of Jessica's journey and she has given me the inspiration to sing always from the heart and always be true to your self. Seeing my cousin on the big screens, always lifts my spirit up to keep singing and following my own music career."
She also added that Frasca helped her discover that there was more to her singing range than she realised.
"I have been singing in the same key since I was a teenager, I have never had anyone tell me that I could reach a higher note. Working in a new key, it gave me confidence to not be nervous anymore to be able to hit higher notes. Doing a new structure it made me fall in love with Motown again. Motown was my childhood dream, to always sing soulful music."
Dixon, who tours with her band the Sand Hill Women, says, "Storytelling is the most important part for me and I am passionate about languages. I have written songs in my language to keep it going. So sharing that with other people I guess you learn more about them to."
Desert Divas Volume II is due out on 17 March.