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Be Moved by Music at YIRRAMBOI

This year’s YIRRAMBOI Festival features a huge line-up of First Nations musicians, singers and performers. From hip-hop to opera, there’s something for every taste – here are our top picks.

Witness ARIA award–winning alternative rock legend Dan Sultan as he performs exclusive songs for the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ, before his soulful voice and guitar fill the iconic space and captivate audiences in an electrifying concert. Support comes from outstanding performers Alice Skye and Kalaji, both premiering new works composed in language.

Founded and mentored by local hip-hop legend Briggs, the Bad Apples label hosts a house party with a line-up of the hottest new talent in town. Bring the ruckus with MCs, producers and beatmakers headlined by hip-hop trailblazer Birdz with freshness from Kobie Dee, Nooky, Philly, Ridzy Ray, singer-songwriter Kee-ahn and DJ Soju Gang.

A writer, producer and sound designer, Kalaji reinterprets a connection to country through an evocative blend of electronic soundscapes and moving imagery that combine to produce a mesmerising sensory experience in Night River.

In this excitingly new, electronica-driven formation, founding members of Yothu Yindi are joined onstage for a cross-generational celebration of First Nations music and dance as powerful tools of protest. Hear new remixes of Yothu Yindi classics, courtesy of producers Nubreed, Lostep and Filthy Lucre, as well as brand-new material.

Stroll around the Blak Makers Market and check out the makers, designers and bush foods providers before settling back for the afternoon at the Sunday Jam Session. The YIRRAMBOI Weelam Festival hub will thrum with music of celebrated First Nations singer-songwriters including Isabelle Skye Thomson, Robert K Champion, Monica Weightman and Pirritu (Brett Lee).

After four years at the helm of the duo Tigerlilly, singer-songwriter Lydia Fairhall (Worimi/Gamipingul) shares her much-loved sound with her new band, the Black She Oaks. This intimate and inspiring concert – the band’s first live performance – features a sneak peak of some of the songs off their upcoming, debut album.

It’ll be a night of big voices and big hair at Heat One of the fabulous Miss First Nation drag pageant. Competition is fierce as queens battle it out to be lip sync superstar. Play Drag Wheel of Fortune with musical divas from pop history – contestants won’t know what song they’re performing until they spin the wheel!

Blak Sound: Emerging First Nations Voices of Now presents five incredible new First Nations artists across an evening of music. This is part of a broader program to empower First Peoples artists in their music careers with mentoring and hands-on learning.

Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole is a true original in contemporary Hawaiian music, drawing from ancestral memory and hula practice, traditional chant and modern melody. Stories and song combine in a riveting and moving performance from the heart.

Put on your glad rags, dust off your dancing shoes, channel Whitney, Mariah, Cher and Bey and warm up those vocal chords by our fire for YIRRAMBOI Koorie-oke hosted by Garret Lyon at YIRRAMBOI Weelam. Camp and choreographed dance routines warmly welcomed.

Be part of two free workshops offering insights into the artistic practices of TAI Body Theatre (Taiwan) and Carly Sheppard (Australia). This interactive talk and hands-on practical event will demonstrate traditional and emerging forms of First Nations dance and music.

Barring Yanabul is the epic free program of more than 40 pop-up live events, where First Nations creatives take to Melbourne’s iconic public spaces, laneways and green places for surprising and eclectic moments of music, performance and art. Whether its opera soprano Deborah Cheetham singing at the State Library, Naretha Williams’s late-night haunting avant-garde organ work at the Melbourne Town Hall, or one of the many street performers charming the city, there’s something for everyone.

Image: Glenn Skuthorpe and the Homelands Tour