Jemma Cher sings loud for reconciliation

Jemma Cher won the best cover category of our Sing Loud! competition. Her cover of Robert Beattie’s Time to Get Serious, was chosen by Delta Goodrem and Gurrumul as the winner.

Below are her answers to some questions we asked about her inspiration for entering and her impressive video accompanying her performance .

I am a 13 year old, Year 8 student at Mt Scopus College in Melbourne. I have been singing and performing since I was eight years old. I have studied music and singing since young and am currently studying with Master Coach David Jaanz.

I have sung at community based concerts and in school productions, competitions and Soirées. I love performing and lead soloists. Some of my influences are Delta Goodrem, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Barbra Streisand, Tina Arena and Eva Cassidy.

I entered the National Reconciliation Week ‘Sing Loud’ competition to come together with other performers and artists after seeing it advertised on a cafe postcard. The fact that Delta was to be one of the judges was a strong attraction as I admire Delta’s performances and recently had the opportunity to meet her through my singing school.

I was inspired by Robert Beattie’s song ‘Time to get Serious’. It retells the whole history of Reconciliation from the earliest times of the indigenous Australians, through the European settlement to the moment of the Apology. It is like a complete school semester on the meaning of Reconciliation and the history of this important subject in a musical format that I could relate to and learn from.

Given its length, I couldn’t include the full lyrics of Robert Beattie’s song in my film-clip, but I think that like me, others my age can benefit from hearing this song and learning more about the story, which is a difficult and important part of our history as Australians.

Young people don’t understand Reconciliation. Robert Beattie’s song leant itself to an arrangement which could include some samples of our national Anthem. Hints of “Beauty Rich and Rare” and “Australia Fair” are heard underneath lyrics which refer to the saddest and most difficult time in our Indigenous history. “Beauty” and “Fair” are enshrined in our National Anthem but for decades life wasn’t like that for the Indigenous people.

A highlight for me after submitting my entry to the competition was being contacted by the song’s author Robert Beattie who was pleased with my interpretation of his song and also the video which I submitted. We put some extras into the film-clip including a stash of vintage vision we managed to find, as well as filming at a little known indigenous sacred site in St Kilda Junction. The video was filmed at the 400 year old Corroboree (‘Ngargee’) tree. The tree is a symbol of the cultural heritage of the original Australians in the Kulin Nation (a pre-settlement federation of Aboriginal Tribes) who met at this place prior to the European settlement in 1835.

Even though this site is protected, it is poorly signed and I hope that through this video others will learn about the significance of this sacred site which has become hidden in St Kilda’s urban development.

I plan to use a portion of the cash prize from Sing Loud! to pay for some of my musical training and to buy some albums but I am planning to donate half of the prize to some Indigenous causes.

Check out Jemma’s YouTube channel for more of her music.

Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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