School students from Broken Hill, Menindee, Wilcannia, and Wentworth took to the stage on Day one of the Mundi Mundi Bash on Thursday afternoon, with every kid getting past the nerves to perform with gusto – with a select few busting out some dance moves as well – to the delight of the raucous crowd.
Making up The Subtext Choir, the group performed two songs alongside Shane Howard during his set. But even before then, as part of the Welcome to Country, the choir sang a bilingual song using English and Barkandji languages titled Yakala (meaning ‘sing out loud’) that they’d written themselves, with assistance from Wilyakali Elders.
The schoolkids had only met on the Monday and through The Literacy and Numeracy Foundation’s (ALNF) instensive program, Subtext: Art Through Literacy, leading into the performance, the young stars of the future learnt about songwriting, understanding culture and tradition, and the importance of country, which all fed into the creation of the song.
“It’s been incredible, the level of engagement with the students; their questions, their ideas, the words. That’s what The Subtext Program is all about,” Sarah Donnelley, Director of Projects at the ALNF, told us.
“This year, Mundi has been so gracious and so amazing in supporting us to bring as many Far West kids to the festival as we could. They’ve written a beautiful song all about acknowledging country and who we are and encouraging everyone to sing out.”
Aunty Sandra Clark, a Wilyakali woman and teacher at Alma Public School, said, “we wanted to include our own Wilyakali and other kids from the Far West so that they are all performing and telling their stories so that we teach them about their identity and to be proud and to know about their country.
“We need them to be confident and proud of their culture that they can pass that on to their families when they get older but it’s part of our culture and our learning is that we all share and teach each other.”
At the Bash, Shane Howard invited the choir on stage for the final two songs of his set, Heart of My Country and Solid Rock.
“It’s really a lovely thing to do and to work with kids,” said Shane.
“Music is this great binding force that brings us all together. To see both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children working together like this, sharing language, sharing culture, sharing stories, working together, it’s very beautiful. They’re the future.”