After visiting ten years ago, Australian singer-songwriter Gina Williams brings the indigenous language of Noongar to the WMC
Multi-award-winning Australian singer-songwriter Gina Williams will perform the indigenous language of Noongar at the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC) on Sunday, 30 October.
She will play alongside her musical partner Guy Ghouse, as part of the Llais Festival, Cardiff's annual international music and arts festival, with the performance presented as part of the UK/Australia Season - a joint initiative by the British Council and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with support from the Australian Government’s Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.
This performance comes ten years after Gina visited Wales as part of the British Council Accelerate programme and while here, she made the ‘life-changing’ decision to start performing in her own language, Noongar.
The Noongar language is one of the rarest languages on the planet from south-western Australia and today, is spoken by less than 400 people. Williams and Ghouse however are on a mission to save it from extinction through song, with their music bringing a modern take on ancient Aboriginal traditions, merging acoustic guitar with vocals, capturing the natural rhythms of the language.
Speaking about her time in Wales, Gina said: “I had a conversation with a lovely chap from the National Eisteddfod of Wales. We talked about the Welsh language and the parallels to Noongar language, in that it was nearly erased. He talked about how you needed to work out what it is that makes your heartbeat faster and pursue that. People will notice and that’s how you will revive your language. For me it was a no brainer. It was always that I would sing in my language. I came home to Australia, and I knew what I needed to do.”
“Since then, I’ve wanted to take a performance back to Wales because I was gifted something there that was really life-changing and really important. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able as a thank you to come back and go: ‘This is what you taught me, but this is what I did with it.
“Language is our birth right. I’m pursuing this because it’s important, not just for me, but for my children.”
To date, Williams has released four studio albums in Noongar and is the recipient of seven West Australian Music Industry Awards for her contribution to indigenous music. Working with Ghouse she has spread Noongar’s popularity through schools, translating some of the world’s best-known songs into Noongar and in 2021, they co-created the first-ever Noongar opera, performed by the West Australian Opera.
Speaking ahead of their performance was Rebecca Gould, Acting Country Director for British Council Wales. She said: “It’s ten years since Gina was here as part of the British Council Accelerate programme and we’re delighted that through the UK/Australia Season, the Wales Millennium Centre has been able to bring her back. She has said that what she has wanted more than anything else is to stand up and say thank you to the people of Wales, and we’re thrilled to be able to support this performance. Together Guy and Gina perform music that weaves ancient storytelling with the contemporary and is something not to be missed. We wish them the very best of luck with this show.”
Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse will play as part of the Llais Festival, which runs from 26-30 October at the Wales Millennium Centre. They will perform on the Glanfa stage at 4.30pm. This event is free. For event information visit: https://www.wmc.org.uk/en/festival-of-voice/artists/gina-williams-and-guy-ghouse.
For more information on the Llais Festival visit:: https://www.wmc.org.uk/en/festival-of-voice
The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation, creating global opportunities in arts and culture, education and the English language. For more information on current opportunities in Wales, visit https://wales.britishcouncil.org/en or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.