Finding Your Voice

Singing Lessons, Workshops and Therapy.

Last week-end was the 9th annual Nanga Music Festival, which takes place at Nanga Bush Camp every October.

When I arrived in Western Australia six years ago to begin my PhD, I was no newcomer to folk/music festivals. In fact you could say I was a little bit of a festival junkie. While there are still hundreds of festivals I have not attended, I was once a regular at Woodford in Queensland, no stranger to Port Fairy, a regular volunteer at The National (Canberra every Easter), and have been to numerous smaller, and sometimes positively intimate, festivals on the east coast, sometimes as a performer, sometimes as a volunteer, and sometimes as a paying punter. So when a friend suggested I sign up to attend an intimate music festival shortly after my arrival in Perth, I was easily convinced this would be the best way to ease into life in my new home state.

I was not disappointed. Nanga combines an absolutely stunning bush setting with awesome – many world class – musical performances – two of my favourite things in life. The setting alone is enough to completely reset a stressed soul,


Nanga Bush

Nanga Bush

then add music to float to heaven by, dancing (if you want), and awesome fireside music jams which mix together punters with top musicians, you have a recipe for fun. I like intimate festivals where you all bunch together in one venue (ok, there are also workshops in another venue, and an open mike near the eating hall, only happening during meals, and numerous spaces to get alone, or gather in small groups) and really get to know each other. Nanga organisers and patrons are welcoming and there were plenty of opportunities to get involved in the festival. I was lucky enough to already know some people from my musical exploits around the country, and I was so taken with the festival that I joined the organising committee for the following year, and have stayed on it ever since. I have not regretted that decision for a moment. The Nanga team is a really awesome group of people, and I love being a small part of creating something wonderful.

This year I had cause once again to be glad of my association with this bunch. The year has been hard: watching – and trying to help – Mum struggle with escalating cancer-related health crises from late November till her death on Anzac Day in April; organising the funeral; cleaning out her house; dealing with all the organisations that needed to be notified; and then more recently a flare up of my fibromyalgia. All of this has led to me not being the most helpful/available team member, yet the care and concern shown by these beautiful people was genuinely touching. In the end I went to Nanga on light duties (necessitated by the fibromyalgia flare) as the rest of the already overworked team took on most of my tasks, and still found time to check up on how I was feeling. One even saw me looking tired at a gig and brought me a pillow to lean on.

I had a fabulous Nanga – not without my daily grieving ritual on my pillow in my room – but truly wonderful. I feel like I have completely reconnected with the sense of community – and how wonderful it can be to have it when the chips are down – as well as musical joy. What a fabulous group of performers we had. A couple of my faves:

Next year is the 10th anniversary of this awesome festival. I can’t wait to see what we dream up…

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Raelene lives in Perth, Australia. She tours & is available for festivals, workshops, & country & interstate events.
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