My name is Emily Wurramara.
I spent my childhood back and forth between two little islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria called Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island. I moved to Meanjin (Brisbane) when I was 6. I now live in Lutruwita/Trowunna (Tasmania)
My father is a Filipino/Chinese/Spanish who grew up in the provinces of Negros. My mother is a Warninidlyakwa/Greek/Italian/Turkish woman who grew up on Groote Eylandt and Milyakburra (Bickerton Island).
My musical journey started from a very young age. I wrote my first song at the age of 7 called Over the Seas, a song about mermaids, dolphins and dugongs swimming in the sea…Very cliche. I loved writing poetry and twisting words to make different images, my poetry when I was younger was very weird and kind of sad. I guess in a way this was my way to express my homesickness for the islands.
As I grew up I found music was my solitude and I knew deep down it was something I’ve always wanted to do as a career and as my life purpose.
My songwriting comes from a place I don’t really understand yet but when a song comes to me I get this ethereal, weird ascending feeling like I’ve watched a sunrise with fog rolling over the hills.
I get chills.
To me songwriting is like a ceremony, it’s sacred. It allows connection to happen not to the physical but to the soul, to the spirit.
As a First Nations woman holding space in a very male white dominated industry and now self-managed, sometimes I’m led to believe that due to treatment of my people in history I have to suppress my truth in order to make others feel comfortable. I don’t want to do that any more.
Growing up I could name probably four mainstream First Nations artists who I heard on the radio a lot, my grandparents had Coloured Stone and Yothu Yindi on cassette. Now we have playlists on Spotify, Youtube, awards, representation in the mainstream radio, media, TV…many industries.
It makes me so insanely proud to be amongst many deadly fam in this industry. We’re more than an “industry” we are a community, a family, a support for each other. 55 years ago we were classed as “Flora and Fauna”. We’ve come a long way but we still have long to go.
With this “representation” comes a sense of tokenism, for a lot of our mob these achievements are historical. These achievements to some little brother or sister in the community are allowing them to feel inspired and full of hope that maybe one day they’ll be standing there accepting that award in their name.
I constantly feel inspired and motivated by this – it’s more to me than just singing then songwriting – it’s my ancestors, my intergenerational trauma, my future hopes, my future dreams, it’s my niece jumping off a boat and spearing a fish, it’s my mother painting my face with red ochre, it’s the birds I hear in the sunrise. To me this starts with listening, opening up more of your spirit and your soul to just listen.
So when you hear the likes of Baker Boy, Alice Skye or Thelma Plum, behold the ancient wisdom and strength from thousands of ancestors. This is more than “entertainment”, this is Healing.
If you’re looking to connect with “Aboriginal” people and their music then hold space, sit, and listen.