Mitch Tambo encouraging Indigenous musicians to ‘rock your ochre, rock your headdress’
Taking the country by storm when he took to the Australia’s Got Talent stage singing John Farnham’s You’re the Voice in Gamilaraay in 2019, Mitch Tambo has now released his latest single to share a message of hope with the world.
Also sung in Gamilaraay, the Gamilaraay/Birri Gubba artist wrote LOVE after spending some time on Country in Tamworth.
“The song came off the back of coming back from going out bush for just under a week. We had ceremony … and then we traced some songlines back home to Tamworth,” Tambo said.
“After that experience I just started to write … for me I just feel like when I’m on Country there’s just an element of freedom.
“It just felt like it was a time where my heart broke open and my spirit set free. Being back out under those open stars.”
Tambo said whilst he sings about his Country, LOVE has the ability to extend to the personal experiences of those listening and to help guide them through the troubles COVID-19 brings.
“It is a universal thing, all of us have that place where we go and for some people, it may be just as simple as going to the footy with their family, going for a walk along the beach or watching some waves rolling off the headland, but for me it’s being out on Country,” he said.
“I wanted to celebrate that and just remind people also, don’t forget to top yourself up. Love yourself and come back to that self-care.
“I think it is really timely, and nothing happens for nothing; everything happens for a reason … I feel like we are isolated but it doesn’t mean we can’t take the time [to] top up our spirit and do things to look after our own wellbeing.
“I know there’s a lot of people out there that are really struggling through this isolated period, so it is important people know … don’t deny yourself love, you can do things.”
A strong cultural man, Tambo sings in language—a journey which has been supported by Aunty Bernadette Duncan.
“Shout out to Aunty Bernadette Duncan who does all the language with me, we work collectively on that. She is such a beautiful Aunty out there in Boggabilla on Gomeroi Country and she is totally underutilised,” Tambo said.
“She is just a wealth of knowledge and a beautiful person and I am really blessed to have her on the journey with me.”
Tambo spoke of the strength he feels when singing in Gamilaraay.
“It is my identity; it is my belonging and it is a big part of my connectedness. There is so much power in language and when we tap into language, we tap into our ancestry and that much greater power.”
“Growing up in Tamworth and being a part of such a strong cultural community, all we did was dance and sing traditional songs and play yidaki.
“That has really been the foundation of my creative spirit, culture and learning who I am. If I stopped singing and expressing myself as a cultural man, you wouldn’t really have me as an artist at all.”
After a huge 2019 and an even bigger 2020, which saw Tambo take the stage at the Fire Fight Australia Concert with John Farnham, Olivia Newton-Jon and Queen’s Brian May, Tambo is moving forward and bringing his culture into the mainstream.
“I want to bring culture into a mainstream, contemporary world and let the world know our culture is here—particularly letting our young people know that you don’t have to sacrifice yourself or your identity to fit in this world,” he said.
“You don’t have to become Americanised because you are part of the oldest, continual living culture on this planet and there is nothing more warrior or gangster than that. Don’t be shame to rock your ochre, rock your headdress and bring that into the now.
“I’m not sacrificing myself; I belong to two worlds and that is my reality. I grew up in the contemporary world, but I also grew up a cultural man. So, when you see me on stage in my headdress and ochre, when you see me stomping my left foot, that is me bringing who I am into the contemporary world and bringing the contemporary world into our ancient world.
“We can do that, I want to empower all youth, people from all walks of life … to own who you are, you were born to shine and not fit into a box.”
To listen to LOVE, visit:
By Rachael Knowles
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