The arts and culture festival that brings Australia’s diverse talent, to the fore – SSI New Beginnings Festival in Spring, is on again. This annual festival showcases the musical, culinary, and artistic talents of people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. In 2017, over 3000 Sydneysiders gathered to celebrate Australia’s rich multicultural society.
An eclectic group of Sydney’s newest community members will take centre stage, including:
• Nardean – an Australian born MC, poet, singer and songwriter carries with her the ancient mysticism of her Egyptian heritage. Named as one of Stoney Road’s “Up and Coming Aussie Hip Hop Artists You Need To Know.” Her first release, a remix of a J. Cole track, reached 40k views on YouTube in three months. Her debut single, Nothing Matters, received 30k streams on Spotify within its first month.
• Shyamla Eswaran – a performer, choreographer and teacher with three decades of experience and a Master’s Degree in International Human Rights Law. She has taught throughout Australia and specialises in Indian dance (Bollywood, Semi-Classical and Folk), having trained and performed each style in its place of origin. She has collaborated with iconic fashion label Camilla, and her dance choreography has featured in one of their promotional videos.
• George Karm – an Assyrian singer and Oud player. With a career spanning 30 years, George has performed in Syria, Lebanon, UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Now in Australia, George shares his knowledge as a teacher of Oud, traditional guitar and keyboard.
• Feiloka – a Sydney-based singer and songwriter who came to Australia from China when she was eight years old. Her songs are inspired by accounts of personal stories. Feiloka worked with Soundfly Mentor Mhea Lee, an expert in songwriting with a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production from Berklee College of Music.
• The Mesopotamian Ensemble – a quintet established in Western Sydney in 2016, whose union of the violin, oud, percussion, guitar, drum and keyboard explores the music of Mesopotamia. A voice of the diaspora, theirs is an intimate fusion of Mesopotamian and Middle-Eastern classical and contemporary folk music styles. In Sydney in 2017, the ensemble represented the the Middle-Eastern Australian refugee community at the Sofar Sounds and Amnesty International music event ‘Give A Home’, in support of the world’s refugees.
• Aire Colombian Folklore pays homage to the folkloric roots of Colombia, combining indigenous melodies with rhythms of the Afro-Colombian diaspora, Aire fuses the cultural with the contemporary, creating fusional sounds with guitar and drum.
• Oyobi – a project that uses live instrumentation and machines to traverse the boundaries between Afro-Latin tradition and modern analog electronica. Their music is primal and improvised, with an unflinching streak of bending and breaking barriers. Oyobi’s line-up includes Vincent Sebastian (electronics, drum machines, percussion), Adm Ventoura (bass), Planeface (synths). They recently performed at the inaugural Australian Women in Music Awards (AWMA) with renowned hip-hop artist Kween-G.
Since its inception in 2015, the New Beginnings Festival has offered a free celebration of the diverse and rich creative talents of migrant, refugees and people seeking asylum. Settlement Services International is a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other Australians to achieve their full potential. SSI works with all people who have experienced vulnerability, including refugees, people seeking asylum and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, to build capacity and enable them to overcome inequality.