Newly relocated to Melbourne, one of Australia's finest indigenous singer-songwriters, Emma Donovan, is about to introduce herself to her new hometown crowd in a significant way. As part of the upcoming She Sings For Reconciliation showcase, Donovan is about to take to the stage alongsi de the likes of Lady Lash, Vida Sunshyne and Candice Monique with her beautiful blend of roots, reggae and gospel. Add to this the fact that it's all for a good cause, and Donovan couldn't be more excited about National Reconciliation Week.
"The main purpose of the gig is for us women to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and to share each other's story," she says of the showcase. "Personally, I hope that gigs like this will not have to be made such an issue or statement in the future, and that we are not forever formally organising events in the celebration of 'reconciling'. I feel that as a musician I've already billed with different artists who come together in the spirit of love and music."
Like all other of life's issues, when it comes to reconciliation, Donovan feels that simply listening to one another is about as close to a solution that we can get as Australians.
"I think just listening and understanding is a bit part of the solution - it's a big part of any solution," she states. "My parents have always brought me up to give respect to everyone, no matter where they're from, or what they might have. I've always played music with people because of their musicianship and not because their race. If I can be a part of any project that is a collaboration of great musician, I'm there.
"Music has always been a medium for me to never be selective of race; it's always been about playing. Coming together as people and artists has always been close to me, though."
Just as important for Donovan has been her involvement in the Black Arm Band, where she has been doing work in administration recently. At the same time Donovan is attempting to organise her new life in Melbourne as well as work on some new musical material too.
"I am working close to the Black Arm Band since it has become a new company, and I have been giving a lot of my time there, with new projects and admin stuff. I'm also working on new material - I write a lot of music in Gumbayngirr which is my mum's language. It has created more awareness that this language exists in northern NSW and it has also empowered family and other communities because it wasn't always spoken."
It isn't just her local community and Australia as a country that have been affected by Donovan's honesty and raw performances - the singer has had an amazing reception overseas too, as she recalls.
"Well, overseas I've played at lot of festivals where people are very appreciative and want to know more. Playing at Womad in Adelaide and the UK were both great experiences, where most of the vibes have been about sharing and respecting. It's been awesome and, like I said, I love to share!
"I think the fact that I can share is so much more important to me, I have had to work hard researching and learning later in age about my language, education for the younger ones now is the main thing. Keeping it strong for the little ones is the right thing to do now."
As for the rumoured upcoming album, Donovan isn't giving too much away apart from stating that she is excited to head back to the studio and will focus on further exploring her native language. "I did my first solo album in 2004 and more recently I did an EP," she explains.
"I will be back in the studio again soon and I'm continuing to write in my languages so I am very excited to be recording again. It's always such a fun time for me and I even get a little over-excited! I'm really looking forward to meeting some other good musos here around Melbourne. I have been a fan of Lady Lash for so long and I always would hear of her when I lived in Sydney. I can't believe I will be playing alongside her at this show! I have also bumped into her around Melbourne and we get caught up in the biggest yarns!"
Donovan also claims that it's her solo performances that give her the most strength on stage. "I feel so much more strength when I'm doing solo shows," she says. "With Black Arm Band, it has been such a powerful, emotional journey, but I feel like I can do anything now since I've been a part of it.
"But coming together with the Black Arm Band on the tours and gigs is such a huge collective, it really feels like a powerful team because I feel I'm directly singing for my people and community."
EMMA DONOVAN is part of SHE SINGS FOR RECONCILIATION alongside Lady Lash, Candice Monique and Vida Sunshyne at The Toff In Town on Sunday May 29.