Local First Nations youth are fulfilling their on-stage aspirations and will be part of Choir of Dreams to perform at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre on Mabo Day.
Rehearsals are currently underway with students from around the Bundaberg Region committing to an eight-week program that will finish with the performance.
Choir of Dreams is an initiation of River Nations Indigenous Corporation through its Indigenous Mentoring Program, which is a social impact arts-based program targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in years 6 to 12 in the Bundaberg Region.
River Nations Indigenous Corporation’s Norelle Watson said she was pleased to see so many students turn up to the initial Choir of Dreams practice sessions and she hoped more students would come on board.
“This program went out to local schools, and its actually transformed into a collective group where parents come along and sing as well,” she said.
“We’ve also engaged paramedics from Queensland Ambulance Service to be involved as well and they’ll be coming along each week as well.
“It’s a community project that is about building relationships and focus on the year of the voice as our dream is to have the young ones find their voice; it’s about having fun and building confidence and self-esteem.”
Choir of Dreams is an eight-week program where students rehearse at Bundaberg Civic Centre and end with a performance at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre.
“It’s awesome to have funding by Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) and support from the Bundaberg Regional Council,” Norelle said.
“With support from the Moncrieff, it will be a presentation of inclusion and belonging, a concert that comes together on the 3 June which is Mabo Day.
“Mabo Day is a very important date on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander calendar.
“The songs that we sing have a strong message and there is significant history and education behind them.
“It is important for the kids to have as much fun as they can in the process.”
Showing talent to community
Local musician Christie McLucas is helping to facilitate the program and she’s excited to help showcase the local talent to the community in June.
“The choir is made up of a diverse group of students, parents, Elders but not just singers,” she said.
“We also have members who play instruments and dance to make us look and sound extra deadly!
“Aunty Norelle approached me and asked me if I would like to be a part of this adventure.
“I met with her, and Luke Watson, and I knew that these people were just so dedicated to the Indigenous community in Bundaberg, and I really hoped that I could be a part of their community.”
Christie said the rehearsals were more than just singing lessons as it provided a space for the First Nation teenagers to connect with one another.
“We are trying to build a community too,” she said.
“It’s great to see more kids each week.
“We want to showcase the spirit and talent of this community.”
Empowering youth with culture
Christie said she was proud to work with River Nations Indigenous Corporation, and she believed their vision was to empower their youth with cultural and creative opportunities that were important and inclusive of family.
“We have a rough list of songs to sing and perform, some of which are very special and communicate some meaningful Indigenous issues and feelings,” she said.
“Others are just for fun – maybe our favourites on the radio – and we've also thrown it open to the members to choose what they want to perform to!
“We don't just sing, either – there's time to just sit and have a chat, enjoy a yummy afternoon tea and get to know people.
“I'm already blown away by the kind, welcoming spirit of these group members.”
Tickets will be on sale for the concert to be held at the end of National Reconciliation Week, 27 May to 3 June.
This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week 2023 is Be a Voice for Generations, which perfectly reflects the Choir of Dreams objective.
The Choir of Dreams project is supported by Regional Art Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Bundaberg Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.
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