• First Nations producer for BIGSOUND, 2019, Alethea Beetson (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The First Nations program has been unveiled for next week's BIGSOUND Festival on Jagera, Yugggera and Turrbal country - with workshops, keynotes and both established and emerging artists hitting the stages across four days.
Rachael Hocking

1 Sep 2019 - 1:32 AM  UPDATED 1 Sep 2019 - 1:35 AM

Credited as the home of new music, BIGSOUND enters its eighteenth year with a renewed commitment to supporting and promoting Indigenous artists.

The recently revealed First Nations line-up already promises to pack a punch - from Electric Fields to an exciting new voice from Woorabinda, Miiesha - and its all been overseen by Kabi Kabi and Wiradjuri producer Alethea Beetson.

"Its about putting our artists front and centre and giving more of a chance for the industry to connect with our artists," Ms Beetson said.

Ms Beetson continues on in a First Nations identified curatorial role which only came into effect last year, and one which mirrors a growing trend in the industry - from major festivals such as Byron Bay's Blues Festival to Groovin' the Moo and the Sunshine Coast's Horizon. 

"It's important that Indigenous people are leading the conversations and community engagements and I think these roles are an important starting point for festivals," she said. 

"But we need to do more, such as looking at leadership positions. These roles can't become another glass ceiling for our mob."

Over the week, streaming platform Spotify will support Indigenous artists and musicians with the creation of a space inside Ann Streets' TSO Lounge and Dining, dubbed the First Nations House.

Meanwhile the Conference Programme looks set to shake up the status quo with a series of provocative panels and speakers, including a discussion around Indigenous governance models in the music industry. 

Of particular note will be the Keynote panel on Thursday night titled, Under Occupation: Indigenous Perspectives on the Global Music Industry.

It features an impressive line-up of First Nations industry professionals from across the world, including Yorta-Yorta artist DRMNGNOW, whose discography includes Australia Does Not Exist and Always Remember – the latter an ode to the Djab Wurrung's ongoing struggle for heritage protection in western Victoria. 

NIMA Album and Song of the Year winner Mojo Juju is also set to take the stage, twice: both to perform and deliver a keynote speech.

The Northern Territory's love of bush bands will be on display too, with performances from Arnhem Land royalty, Black Rock Band, and Numbulwar's Mambali. 

Ms Beetson says she hopes audiences appreciate the diversity and breadth of First Nations music.

"It's cultural resurgence, not a genre. And it doesn’t fit into a box that the white Australian music industry has tried to identify it in," she says. 

BIGSOUND kicks off at midday on Tuesday with a Welcome Party and closes Friday night. 

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