MOTHER TONGUE: TALES FROM HOME WITH EMILY WURRAMARA
Captured where the deep red earth greets the sea in Yuraygir National Park, our HOME collection is an ode to this incredibly special land we inhabit. When it came to seeing it in motion on Australian beauty Charlee Fraser in the campaign video, singer-songwriter Emily Wurramara's serene yet powerful track “Ngarrukwujenama” helped bring the message behind the campaign to life.
An anthem for the sea and her people sung in Anindilyakwa, her native language, Wurramara's song archives the language of her land, preserving her mother-tongue through music for all to appreciate. She sings about how the earth is our home and what we do to her, we do to ourselves – a message that resonates through the emotion in her voice, no matter what language you speak.
It gives caution to that age-old saying, “there’s no place like home”. It’s time to learn what that means all around this country and take care of our magical land.
We fell in love with your song ”Ngarrukwujenama” the moment we heard it. Can you tell us about the meaning and inspiration behind the song?
“Ngarrukujeyinama” means “I’m Hurting.” I’m very much inspired by nature in songwriting and this song was written in response to a mining company that came to my island and wanted to mine the seabed. My people took them to court and we won the court case, and the Northern Territory government created a ban on seabed mining around Groote and its surrounding waters. This is a reminder that not only are we protectors and caretakers of the land but the sea and the things that dwell in them.
Tell us a bit about the Anindilyakwa language for anyone who is unfamiliar. In what region is it spoken?
This word is Anindilyakwa, which is spoken by my people the Warnindilyakwa family from Groote Eylandt and Bickerton Island in the gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory.
Language has a fundamental part in not only preserving culture around the world but also exercising the right for one’s voice to be heard. What role do you think music has in advocating for indigenous culture?
Music has always been an integral part of my mob’s storytelling. Music is a universal language that speaks to one's soul, which is a very deep level of connection. Music allows space for me as a First Nations woman to educate, be present, archive and preserve my language for our future generations, and lastly to tell our stories.
In your song “Ngarrukwujenama” you sing about the earth hurting. Can you tell us a bit more about the message and what inspired you to write it?
Over the duration that human beings have been living on earth, we have done more destruction to our home in the last 50 years then in any other era – human destruction that is. For me personally, when I see on the TV, read online, all these pictures of what we are doing to our home, it hurts my heart.
I wanted to write a song in my language that focuses on the fact that we all share this earth and we all have this in common. I was thinking of my future grandchildren when I was writing this and how I am going to leave the state of this earth for them when I leave.
You’re using your music to not only share and archive your language and culture, but to highlight environmental issues. Have you always brought meaning to your work?
Always, my music is an expression of my inner soul. I am always reminding myself that music doesn’t just speak to our vessels, it speaks to the souls that dwell within each and every human being on this planet.
I always write the truth to sing about experiences that have happened to myself, my family, my friends – real life things that people can relate to and hopefully those words that I wrote inspire a healing journey for the listener and encourage them to look deep within.
What lessons are you taking from 2020 so far?
This year has been crazy! My life literally feels like a roller coaster. I’ve learnt so many things, such as everyone who enters a time in your “book” isn't always going to be in every chapter or page, paragraph or sentence, but you are. I’ve learnt a lot about self love, self care, and self worth. Being stuck in isolation with my family has really made me value family more than anything. I haven’t had a break in a longtime and am very grateful for what I do have in my life, it's enough for me.
And lastly, what are some other indigenous artists we should be listening to?
Oh this was extremely difficult to decide so instead I have put together a “Deadly” playlist for everyone. Hope you enjoy!