Emily Wurramara performs as part of Island Vibe Festival at Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in October.
Earlier in the year, Brisbane-based singer-songwriter Emily Wurramara lost nearly everything in a house fire. Now, she rises from the ashes stronger and more determined than ever before.
“I find it kind of a blessing,” Emily responds when asked about the tragedy.
“Literally everything I own is in a suitcase and that's really cool because I can just go wherever whenever I want, but it was pretty scary for me to be in.
“Obviously there's trauma that comes attached with that and seeing fire, so it tripped me out a bit and my perspective and priorities have changed. It was a real life-changing moment for me as a human being, as a mum and as an artist as well.”
With a revived outlook and renewed artistic vigour, Emily is preparing for the next few months of live shows that include supporting Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas on his solo show in Canberra as well as a trip to North Stradbroke Island for Island Vibe Festival.
“This is actually my second time to Island Vibe Festival, so I'm really excited,” she says.
“The first time I went was 2016 and I played with my band at the time called Black Smoke. It was really fun and I'm looking forward to seeing and meeting a lot of new people, and I'm really looking forward to watching Alysha Brilla – she's amazing.”
Emily will also be playing a special concert alongside her good friend Alice Skye, who Emily has developed a special bond. “I call Alice my soul sister,” Emily laughs.
“Whenever I'm in Melbourne it's me and her; whenever she's in Brisbane it's her and I, just chilling, hanging, getting to know her as a person and as an artist. She's such a genuine person and she's going to go so far with her music.
“I'm so proud and honoured to be in this industry with amazing women like Alice, like Thelma [Plum], like Tia [Gostelow]. We're all very supportive of each other.”
In 2019, the UN International Year Of Indigenous Languages, Emily is part of group of young, contemporary Indigenous musicians working to preserve and maintain traditional languages and dialects through music.
“Indigenous musicians, we make up such a small percentage of this industry but I'm proud that there's big noise being made and that noise is being heard all over the world,” she says.
“You have artists who are breaking records and breaking down barriers, then you have artists before our time like Warumpi Band, Shellie Morris and Emma Donovan – all these beautiful artists that have broken down these barriers for us to be here and to hold space and be present. That's just incredible. Fifty-two years ago... we were classified as flora and fauna; we've come a long way, but we've still got a long way to go.”
As well as a packed schedule of live performances, Emily has also been working on her next release, revisiting songs from her past.
“I've been taking time out to songwrite [sic] and pick up pieces of songs from my past that I've written from when I was seven until now – hundreds and hundreds of songs that I've been going through,” she says.
“I'm looking forward to releasing again soon because a lot of things have happened throughout my journey and my career so far that reflects me as a human being, and I really can't wait to share that story and share what truths I've found about me that I know a lot of people can relate to. So that's really special and I'm looking forward to releasing some very new songs very soon.”
Island Vibe Festival takes place at North Stradbroke Island 24-27 October.