Emma Donovan
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Emma Donovan
Emma Donovan is an emerging star on the Australian music scene. She recently performed at the Womadelaide world music festival where we caught up with her for a chat about her music, her family and her future.
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My name's Emma Donovan. I'm based in Sydney. I'm a singer-songwriter. My father's originally from a place called Geraldton, and he's a Naaguja and Yamatji man. I have a mother that's from the north coast of New South Wales and she's a Gumbainggir-Danggali woman. She's from a place up there called Nambucca Valley. I come from a huge musical family. My mother and her mother and father were singers. I've been the oldest, like, grandchild, so I've, kind of, had the uncles all playing guitar, had my mum singing, had my nan and pop encourage me to sing from a very young age. When I was a young girl I was brought up on country music, so my roots are in country music. And I remember singing the odd Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn number, but, you know, as I got older, I started getting into reggae, started getting into R&B.

When I sing this song, I like to dedicate this song to my mother. She's just over there underneath that tree. And I think she's crying. And she's brought my tears on. I don't wanna look at her.

'Aboriginal Woman' isn't my song, but it's just such an inspirational song. When I heard Christine Anu perform it - I remember standing in the rain, actually - and she sang that song and she sang a couple of her originals, and I thought then and there, "I wanna do that," you know? But 'Aboriginal Woman', if you hear the words, it's amazing.

I kind of have just started developing... I'm writing in my mother's language and just, you know, taking stories from up home, from where my mum's from. Aboriginal language for me, especially Gumbainggiri language, is just as new for me and I'm excited about it. I'm excited that I can say 'giinagay'. I can say 'hello' in my language. I'm excited that I can say 'goodbye'. I can say "Giinagay, jiinda," or "Giinagay, gagu." I'm excited about that, so I kind of include that. Because, you know, Aboriginal people in Australia, there's so many different dialects too. There isn't one language for Aboriginal people. So I think it's important that, you know, if you go to festivals like this and people wanna say hello to you, it's cool to say hello in Aboriginal language. Like, people, you know, like, respect that.

Did the women's voice workshop. It was such a big thing for me, like... Like, I'm pretty sure I was a lot younger than a lot of the women. There were some women there that were 65 years of age. I asked them about how long they'd played and their groups, and they'd been singing together in a group for, like, 25 years. So it was very big and it's very inspirational to just be onstage with women like that, that had their own stories. At first, when I sat down, I was thinking to myself, "What am I doing here?" But then I thought, "No, I've got my own story too," you know what I mean? I've got my own yarn, I've got my own stuff that I wanna sing about. And, you know, everybody's got their own stories and, you know, things like that it's just... Oh...it's just amazing to take what you get from it and what you take away from it and how much you can share. It's just such a big thing, like... It means heaps to me, hey.

A lot of people always ask about what I want to happen. I don't know - I'm just happy with everything that I'm doing now. I think the only thing that I'm really, really passionate about and that I really wanna do in the next couple of years is I wanna get more involved with Aboriginal language and, like, doing children's albums in Gumbainggiri. That's my biggest, like, goal that I really wanna do. 'Cause, like, I don't have any children, but I've got a brother that has two girls and it just... it means a lot for me to know that, you know, they can sing a song in their language when they're little. I really want them to have that because I never had that when I was little. And for my unborn children and my family that I don't have yet, like, I really want that. So that's probably my long-term big thing that I want to achieve.
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