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

Views From My Desk, Vol. 5

Party people,

It’s been one month since my last dispatch, and I think I’ll aim to keep with this timetable. Have you missed me? Hope so!

Here’s a list of things I think are worth sharing:

  1. I MADE THE SHORTLIST FOR THE 2021 RICHELL PRIZE FOR EMERGING WRITERS! Hip-Hop, we keep doin’ it big on an international scale, man. The Prize is announced on November 4.
  2. While I’m on the subject of myself (let me get that out the way, ha!) I was so honoured to be profiled by Australian rapper L-FRESH The Lion for Rolling Stone Australia and Diversity Arts Australia. He did such an incredible job, I hope you enjoy the read.
  3. Now, onto the news that caught my eye this past month! “Toxic workplaces, be they in the office, boardroom, on stage or behind, have no future in Australian music.” Slowly but surely, time’s up for predatory behaviour in the music industry.
  4. I’ve previously mentioned how much I enjoy MasterClass. I’ve just started Nas’s new program on The Art of Hip-Hop Storytelling. In one moment, he recalls the first-ever rap he wrote. In my memoir’s first chapter (the book up for the Richell Prize) I detail my own attempt to write my first rap. Needless to say: I would have let Nas down, ha!
  5. I’m definitely looking at signing up for the Music Tectonics Conference. Technology in music is changing so rapidly, but as a freelance consultant for First Nations and culturally diverse artists and creatives, it’s important I get my head around opportunities on platforms from Spotify to Twitch to Reddit.
  6. If you’re based in New South Wales and run a small business, this looks like a good TAFE workshop (Wed, Oct 27) on how to understand which deductions you can claim and when you can claim them, along with what records you need to keep.
  7. From the virtues of vanlife to the quiet of their every day, these photographers will feed your travel fires as the pandemic curbs our lives.
  8. I’m only learning of artist Kayla Mahaffey‘s work but my goodness: such bright and beautiful JOY. Adding this to my list of WANTS!
  9. So happy for my friends at Frontier Touring because finally, it looks like international tours are headed back Down Under. See: the excitement surrounding their Billie Eilish shows.
  10. Edited by West Sydney powerhouse Winnie Dunn, Straight Up Islander is a collection of writers from Oceania.

Thanks for reading.

This newsletter is free but not cheap. So you can help it keep going: forward it to someone who’d like it, hire me for your media and content needs, book me as a host, or work with me on your promotional events.

If you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues and subscribe here.

Views From My Desk, Vol. 4

Hey y’all,

This newsletter marks one month of a weekly send-out but after today I’ll shift into more sporadic updates. Basically, I won’t be clogging up your inboxes. You can still catch me on social media all day, errrr’day!

Here’s a list of things I thought were worth sharing this week:

  1. After months of lockdown here in Sydney, we’re getting the word October 18 will mark when double vaccinated people can enjoy certain ‘freedoms’. Who else has booked in essentials like nails, hair and beauty therapy? Lord knows I have; shouts to Absolutely Fabulous.
  2. Last week I shared the news of being named to the 2021 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers’ longlist. I’m new to writing creative non-fiction, so the accolade is a humbling one. I’ve learned so much from paid subscription service MasterClass. I know it’s not for everyone and the price is quite steep, but there are so many incredible ‘masters’ on there sharing skills and know-how. Here’s a link to a 7-day free pass BUT be careful—you have to unsubscribe at the end of the week or they’ll start charging you.
  3. In a move toward the future, Australia’s biggest music award show The ARIAs has dumped gender-based categories.
  4. Facebook is launching a ‘lite’ version of Instagram for countries that don’t have the same access to cellular data and internet connection required to load many of the app’s features.
  5. I really enjoyed Seth Godin‘s breakdown of what the modern school curriculum should look like in 2021. Forget biology, chemistry, arithmetic, social studies et al: we should be looking at Statistics, Communication, History and Propaganda and more.
  6. “If some reports are to be believed, we will soon enter a post-Covid era of flamboyance and decadence reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties.” An interesting pitch for men to start investing in fine jewellery.
  7. I’m on Twitter all the time and I hadn’t heard of Super Follows till now, a subscription model to provide ‘super fans’ premium access to their fave celebs.
  8. The sale of crystals has surged during the past two years, with Google searches up 40 per cent and the global healing crystal market is estimated to be worth around $1.3 billion dollars.
  9. Nicki Minaj had a rough week. She’s far from an endearing person (I speak from personal experience), so her many detractors had quite the giggle with all the drama.
  10. Finally, this week we watched the 40th-anniversary show of the VMAs and the MET Gala. Both of them received an overwhelmingly negative response on social media and follow-up editorials, from the stale fashion, tired attempts at provocation and outdated tone. Has the cult of celebrity finally died? It appears in many ways, the answer is yes.

Thanks for reading.

This newsletter is free but not cheap. So you can help it keep going: forward it to someone who’d like it, hire me for your media and content needs, book me as a host, or work with me on your promotional events.

If you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues and subscribe here.

~Simone xo

Views From My Desk, Vol. 3

Hey y’all,

Here’s a list of things I thought were worth sharing this week:

  1. WE DID IT, JOE! Out of over 850 entries, I made the longlist for the 2021 Richell Prize for Emerging Writers. I’m still in crazy shock and beyond honoured. When I tell you the amount of time I put into that entry, lawdamercy.
  2. On a much darker note, we mourn the passing of the brilliant Michael K. Williams. I just started re-watching Boardwalk Empire the other week, so he’s been top of mind. An absolutely premature and tragic loss. These words from former co-star Wendell Pierce during a 2014 interview are profound.
  3. In my role as Project & Events Manager for Media Diversity Australia, I get to work on some incredible programs. One of them is our 2022 Summer Internships for First Nations and culturally diverse final-year uni students in Australia. Entries are now open.
  4. Common Ground Towers are a well-known social housing estate in Sydney’s Inner West, and the residents have had an especially tough time this week during our state-wide lockdown here in NSW.
  5. Speaking of the pandemic, Guy Sebastian came under fire for this video, accused of “trying to be everything to everyone” (ahh, like most commercially successful artists?).
  6. My new bar cart arrived this week and I’m in full hostess mode! Well, for when we’re allowed to have guests over.
  7. Will Snoop Dogg perform the Menulog banger next year when he tours Australia? My money’s on hell yeah.
  8. The one and only Janet Jackson is dropping a two-part documentary and I am here. for. it.
  9. In a thorough Q&A for artists, Marque Lawyers outline information regarding NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), posting experiences on social media, how the laws play a part in what media can and cannot report on, and more
  10. I could care less about their work with Mr West, but FNZ are a massive Australian success story right now.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you think there are ways to make this bulletin pop more—I’m all ears!

This newsletter is free but not cheap. So you can help it keep going: forward it to someone who’d like it, hire me for your media and content needs, book me as a host, or work with me on your promotional events.

If you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues and subscribe here.

~Simone xo

Views From My Desk, Vol. 2

Hey y’all,

Hope this finds you in good spirits! Between mourning the one-year anniversary of my beloved grandmother’s passing, working on various projects, enjoying the new spring weather and moving house in the midst of an endless lockdown, it’s definitely been an emotional rollercoaster for me!

Here’s a list of things I thought were worth sharing this week:

  1. I was working as a media personality in New York City when I met a teenage talent named Gabi Wilson, who signed a deal with RCA Records under the guidance of her idol Alicia Keys’ management team, MBK. Years later, she morphed into H.E.R. and, as we all know, became a superstar. She’s now about to make her big-screen debut in the film adaptation of The Colour Purple from Broadway.
  2. If you feel the world is getting murkier by the day, how about investing in a clarity coach?
  3. Dolce & Gabbana brought out the big guns for their stunning Alta Moda show in Venice over the weekend, with the fashion duo obviously back in favour with the A-list (cancel culture, say what?)
  4. Every gym bro’s podcasting hero, Joe Rogan not only tested positive to COVID-19 this week but true to form, says he’s healed himself with an unproven treatment.
  5. In a couple of weeks, acclaimed writer Colson Whitehead’s new, 1960s-based book Harlem Shuffle is released. One character describes Harlem, where I lived for the greatest decade of my life, as a place where “everybody’s kicking back or kicking up. Unless you’re on top.” True to this day.
  6. Michelle Yeoh is a TOTAL badass.
  7. An examination of the connection between relentless government intervention since colonisation to the trauma and disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians, Incarceration Nation is streaming now on SBS On Demand.
  8. Spotify has launched BLEND, a shared playlist feature for you and your loved ones (with the same taste in music, obvs).
  9. Moving house on the first day of spring definitely feels right! Here are some spring-cleaning tips that might be useful for Australian readers.
  10. Increase the peace, West Sydney. My heart goes out to these kids, man.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you think there are ways to make this bulletin pop more—I’m all ears!

This newsletter is free but not cheap. So you can help it keep going: forward it to someone who’d like it, hire me for your media and content needs, book me as a host, or work with me on your promotional events.

If you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues and subscribe here.

~Simone xo

Views From My Desk, Vol. 1

Hey y’all,

Yesterday (or today, in the U.S.) was/is my birthday! It’s a celebration! Great way to kick off this newsletter.

Here’s a list of things I thought were worth sharing this week:

  1. First, I wrote about why the new lineup for The Wiggles is powerfully significant for children of colour.
  2. My friends at Illusive Touring are looking towards the (Odd) future and bringing Tyler, The Creator, out on tour to Australia next year. So let’s stay positive that 2022 will be everything we need it to be!
  3. Rather crazy to think this Tiffany & Co. promotion is the first advertising campaign the Carters have ever starred in together.
  4. I’ve gotten so used to binge-watching my TV shows that when a new series starts and has the absolute nerve to drop episodes weekly, I’m mad as hell! That said, Nine Perfect Strangers on Amazon/Hulu has me hooked.
  5. My friends at Media Diversity Australia are recruiting 400 supporters and would love you to pledge just $10 a month to help make this happen. You can support Indigenous journalists and culturally diverse journalists, including people with disabilities. Your assistance helps MDA run programs to support CALD journalists, conduct agenda-setting research, run networking events and provide practical solutions for the media industry. Donate here.
  6. I can’t hear the word ‘Aaliyah’ without almost shedding a tear. Not only about the late artist’s tragic passing, but also because I still can’t believe I lost the audio files from our interview, which we did just a month before she died. I cannot believe it’s been two decades since Baby Girl left us.
  7. I have a slight obsession with the 1920s/1930s. Considering it was a century ago now is amazing. I love the architecture, the Great Gatsby-esque vibes, the Harlem Renaissance, all of it.
  8. Thoughts with Afghanistan, today and always.
  9. Hmm, remember what I said in Bullet Point 2? Apparently, immunologists fear the worst as a strain of COVID deadlier than the current Delta variant is potentially looming around the corner. Lawd, have mercy.
  10. A reminder for this week: It’s okay not to be okay. We’re all in this together. So here are some practical ways to fight through the trauma of lockdown and beyond.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you think there are ways to make this bulletin pop more—I’m all ears!

This newsletter is free but not cheap. So you can help it keep going: forward it to someone who’d like it, hire me for your media and content needs, book me as a host, or work with me on your promotional events.

If you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues and subscribe here.

~Simone xo