Music language breaks barriers
PITJANTJATJARA man Frank Yamma speaks five languages and English is not number one.
More comfortable for him, however, is his musical language, which he will be bringing to Bellingen's Global Carnival this weekend.
"I lost my mother when I was 12 years old and by the time I was 15 things had got a bit rough," Frank said.
"I wrote my first song when I was 16 and my first pay cheque was $20 - it's got better since then."
Singing from the heart, his songs tell of romance, his country (Docker River area) and the poverty in which he grew up and which continues to be the reality for many indigenous people.
"I am a storyteller - if people listen to the words, they will understand and then we will all experience that together," Frank said.
"People get a nice response from my music - a lot of my music is quiet."
Ten years ago, Frank teamed up with David Bridie, well-known from his earlier incarnation in the band My Friend the Chocolate Cake. The two recently got together with Tim Cole and spent a week in an old farmhouse near Goulburn to create Frank's newest album, Countryman, which has been lauded near and far.
"We got away from everything and just made music for a week," he said.
As one of the headline acts for this weekend's Global Carnival, Frank said audiences could expect a gentle gig where they could lay back and enjoy the music.
"I love doing my performance and then chilling out and enjoying the people."
Other special guests at this year's festival include Band of Brothers - a collaboration between the Tawadros Brothers on the oud and the Grigoryan Brothers on the guitar, Bandaluzia Flamenco, Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, Stalker Theatre and, of course, from New Orleans, Jon Cleary plus the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
The festival kicks off this Friday night at the Bellingen Showgrounds. For more program information and ticket sales, go to www.globalcarnival.com.