Of course I would LIKE her, given she first came to national prominence with the autobiographical play, “White Baptist ABBA Fan”. Though I’ve been aware of the music and works of the opera singer, Deborah Cheetham for about twenty years I’ve never seen her live before. Her performance at the National Indigenous Music Awards in Darwin was spell-binding.
Though there’s a tendency in some sections of the public and the media to group a whole bunch of people together under the banner “Indigenous Music” (political songs, rap, folk etc), her performance of that and of some others demonstrates how broadly superficial, and probably racist, that tendency can be.
There was, for example, a young guy from Sydney who played classical violin, combined with didgeridoo. There was a school aged choir from Western Australia. There was pop from Jessica Mauboy, and electronica from “Electric Fields”. And there was the awesome Aunty Wilma Reading who has made her career with show tunes and the like. She performed Barbra Streisand’s “Memories”, perhaps reflecting on the many changes she has seen in the ways in which Indigenous performers have been recognised over the last forty or fifty years. She was inducted into the Hall Of Fame, as were the awesome 1990s pop-folk group, Tiddas.
There were so many wonderful performances on the night from many artists, including Emma Donovan, Dan Sultan, and Uncle Jack Charles.
A truly memorable night.