Not all heroes wear capes: The two unassuming musicians who’ve become COVID-19 trailblazers

Not all heroes wear capes: The two unassuming musicians who’ve become COVID-19 trailblazers

The RMH Scrub Choir
Words by Tom Parker

The Australian Music Vault have just announced the next phase of their Banding Together video series.

In September, we announced Banding Together – a new video series developed by the Australian Music Vault (AMV) that captured the impact of COVID-19 on the music industry. The first phase of the series documented how those within the music industry’s inner-sanctum have responded to the crisis.

Exploring the innovation of Isol-Aid, the first phase of the series also shined a light on the industry leaders. The likes of ARIA CEO Dan Rosen, esteemed artist manager Michael Parisi, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Claire Spencer AM, among others, shared their stories of where the industry was placed before COVID-19 struck, and how it was suddenly upended in mid-March.

Interviews with the likes of Jimmy Barnes, Michael Gudinski, Emily Ulman, Martin Foley, N’fa Jones and Bonnie Dalton also featured.

Now, the AMV has just announced the next phase of the series, Banding Together: Highways of Hope. As part of this leg of the series, we are introduced to two unsung heroes of COVID-19 – Dr Emma O’Brien OAM and Lino Ettia.

Dr O’Brien is the Head of Music Therapy at The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) and an accomplished musician. She also founded the RMH Scrub Choir – a music project that offered frontline workers an avenue to unwind after their shifts while also aiming to bring some light and a sense of unity to those in lockdown.

As part of the episode, the AMV chat to Dr O’Brien about how she first got into music, completed a PhD and then how she ended up at the RMH. It then explores how the RMH Scrub Choir came about – a collective that has performed inspirational renditions of Bruno Mars’ ‘Count on Me’ and The Pretenders’ ‘I’ll Stand by You’, bringing much-needed smiles to those worst affected by COVID-19.

Watch O’Brien’s inspirational story below.

Lino Ettia has a slightly different story. While the pandemic has placed plenty of stress on the healthcare system, the aged care system has also been gravely impacted. Our senior citizens have had an incredibly tough time of it but Ettia has been a crucial ray of hope – a break dancer and working musician in his earlier years, Ettia has been an enduring aged care music performer throughout the pandemic.

As gigs were first cancelled in mid-March, Ettia lost work left, right and centre but he quickly adapted, embracing technology to remain engaged and connected to his aged care audiences.

Check out Ettia’s fascinating story below.

Find out more about Banding Together via the Australian Music Vault website.

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