Elevate To Higher Ground (APR 2022)

Welcome to ELEVATE TO HIGHER GROUND!

In the monthly newsletter, we highlight inspiring news relating to First Nations and multicultural female artists and creatives in Australia (‘Close To Home’) and worldwide (‘International Affair’).

This debut edition is a quick glimpse into the style and format we’re hoping to grow in the coming months.

The content below is curated by Higher Ground Consulting Agency’s Founder, Simone Amelia Jordan, and we look forward to developing robust future issues with better visuals, guest editors, opinion pieces and more.

Let’s get into the round-up!


CLOSE TO HOME

MUSIC

 

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Higher Ground was officially launched as Australia’s first media consultancy for First Nations and multicultural talent to benefit female artists and creatives. The boutique agency will provide female-only clients with purposeful mentorship, media training and strategy, offering a holistic approach. A select number of artists and creatives will be developed per year allowing the team to provide critical, hands-on support.

The Australian Women In Music Australia Conference + Awards take place next month (May 17-18) in Brisbane. Executive Producer and Program Director Vicki Gordon has announced ‘Love For My Sisters’, a special performance showcasing First Nations and Bla(c)k female acts: Kween G, Lady Lash, Dizzy Doolan, RedBelly, Hot Brown Honey, Kaylah Truth and Shakaya. The conference also features Diversity & Inclusivity as part of the conference’s theme, with a screening of Liza Moscatelli‘s IT’S OUR DUTY! Reflections Of Women & Hip-Hop documentary plus a panel with Kween G, Moscatelli, BARKAA and Busty Beatz.

 

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The Music Network exclusively reported that Ghanain-Australian record executive Na-ima Braimah has been hired by Page 1 Management to lead their Australian ventures. According to the article, Page 1 Management represents a number of local and international hitmaker musicians, producers, and songwriters including Joel Little (Taylor Swift, Lorde), ‘Laxed (Siren Beat)’ creator Jawsh 685, Rory Noble (Kanye West), and more. Braimah joins from The Orchard, where she was retail marketing and creative coordinator for more than two years.

STYLE

Indigenous Fashion Projects will return to Afterpay Australian Fashion Week next month. New collections from five First Nations women designers will be featured on the runways: Kirrikin, By Wonnarua designer Amanda Healy, Liandra Swim, By Yolngu designer Liandra Gaykamangu, Maara Collective, By Yuwaalaraay designer Julie Shaw, Native Swimwear, By Biripi and Ngarabal designer Natalie Cunningham and Ngali, By Wiradjuri designer Denni Francisco.

Writer Alicia Vrajlal constantly advocates for the platform of Australia’s First Nations and multicultural women. In a Refinery29 piece, she highlights the bold fashion choices of popular MasterChef judge, Melissa Leong.

SCREEN

Writer Yvonne Aoll has penned a great piece for SBS Voices on her experience navigating the screen industry as a young Black woman aspiring to be a star in Australia’s predominantly white industry. “There I was, a young African girl, putting myself out there and saying yes to calls, roles and opportunities, and getting accepted for the same,” she writes.

Congratulations are in order for Diana Nguyen and the team behind Phi and Me Too! Based on Nguyen’s online series, the relationship comedy between a Vietnamese refugee mother Kim Huong and her Australian raised teenage daughter Phi has been awarded development funding from Screen Australia and will be turned into a TV show.

CULTURE

Diversity Arts Australia presented a new season of their Colour Cycle podcast, this time spotlighting synergy between trailblazing female creatives in Australia and the UK. Four insightful episodes—titled UK/AUS – This is Who We Are (Part One)—emphasise the experiences of women of colour and Indigenous women working in the arts and creative industries. Episode 2: Women, Hip-Hop & Resilience featuring local luminaries like MC Trey, Naomi Wenitong (Shakaya) and Maya Jupiter is especially relevant.

 

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In the first year that poetry was eligible for submission, First Nations writer and poet Evelyn Araluen won the prestigious Stella Prize. On winning this year’s prize (worth $60,000), Araluen said: “I’m deeply interested in the lives, histories, and dreams of women and gender diverse writers in Australian publishing, and it’s an honour to be recognised by a  prize designed to champion those stories.”

Entries for Media Diversity Australia’s WOMEN OF COLOUR MENTORSHIP program are almost closed! MDA is calling for expressions of interest from mid-career, women journalists of First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to undertake a 12-month program to help pave a pathway for them into leadership roles. Be sure to spread the word and enter if you’re eligible.


INTERNATIONAL AFFAIR

MUSIC

 

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April kicked off with the Grammy Awards, a testament to the hard work of my longtime friend Valeisha Butterfield-Jones as Co-President of The Recording Academy. Valeisha has been committed to empowering multicultural women in entertainment throughout her career, including her legacy with WEEN (where we first met). This year’s Grammys was the first major music award production committed to using inclusion riders, which Forbes reports are “an accountability mechanism used in the hiring process to foster an environment of inclusion; a tool to ensure equity and inclusion at every level during the production”.

STYLE

 

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One of the aforementioned network WEEN’s graduates, Baroline Diaz, launched her debut capsule collection with Good American, The B Project. The limited line of sweaters (or jumpers, as we say in Australia) burst with bright colours and feature cute phrases to encapsulate today’s multicultural career woman. At only 27 years old, Dominican-American Diaz is the VP of A&R at Interscope Records.

SCREEN

 

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The series finale of Black-ish aired in the U.S. this month, a fitting end to a criminally underrated TV show. Black-ish tackled a myriad of social issues and hot topics with humour, honesty and love. Every single member of the ensemble cast showed up and showed out each episode, from veterans like Jenifer Lewis to breakout stars like Marsai Martin. With eight seasons in the can, Australian viewers can catch up anytime on Disney Plus.

CULTURE

 

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On the heels of her brilliant Spotify podcast #BlackGirlSongbook, veteran music journalist and author Danyel Smith released Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop. The critically-acclaimed book is described as an “intimate history of Black women’s music as the foundational story of American pop”. Smith was the first female editor of a major music publication in the 1990s and has been a formidable force in the industry since then. Make sure you grab a copy to support.


GET INVOLVED!

Please send us your news, views, tips and more—we value your feedback! Can’t wait to grow with you.

~Simone Amelia Jordan