Local talent Emily Wurramara will show off her debut EP, Black Smoke, with three shows in Brisbane.

Emily first made waves in March this year when her debut single, Ngerraberrakernama (pronounded nehrah-berah-ker-nahma), went into rotation on ABC Local Radio, and eventually scored airplay on JJJ, ABC Radio National, 4ZZZ, Triple R, and dozens of other stations around the country.

Already a seasoned performer at just 20 years of age, Emily has played festivals in Sweden and France, as well as Australian festivals like Island Vibe, Woodford Folk Festival, Clancestry and Gaarma Festival. She’s even been nominated for a couple of Queensland Music Awards.

Born in Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory, Emily moved to Brisbane when she was six, and was soon inspired by new sounds and senses. But it was a trip home for a funeral that really set her on the path she’s on now.

“There were these young men waiting on the side of the roads with grass leaves,” she recalls. “They started to make little fires on the edge of the road leading all the way to the burial grounds and the men surrounding the car started singing in language. The way their voices rattled, the way that they held those long notes, put me in a trance. It was then that I had the fascination with everything to do with singing.”

Emily Wurramara

Image: Supplied

Teaching herself how to play piano at age 10, Emily started writing her own music almost immediately. Poetry, books, ukulele, guitar, saxophone, choir — it was all grist for her artistic mill.

Her talent was officially recognised when she was selected to write a song with Powderfinger’s Bernard Fanning, as part of a special collaboration through the 2014 Clancestry event. That song eventually became her debut single, Ngerraberrakernama, which set the tone for her new EP, Black Smoke.

Produced by the legendary David Bridie (of My Friend The Chocolate Cake and Not Drowning, Waving fame), Black Smoke is inspired by traditional stories and nursery rhymes, as well as the ever-present challenges to her community, and her own coming-of-age journey.

The EP finds her singing in both English and Anindilyakwa (annen-dilly-yark-wah), the traditional language of her home on Groote Eylandt. “The language songs are definitely a dedication to my grandmother,” Emily says.

Now, she’s embarking on a national headlining tour to promote the release — including three shows in Brisbane.

“I’m coated with nerves, disbelief, happiness and so much pride,” she says. “Just knowing I am representing my clan makes this even more special.”

Black Smoke is available now through Wantok Musik / MGM. Emily Wurramarra will play the following dates in Brisbane:

Monday 4 July — NAIDOC launch @ King George Square (Free event)
Wednesday 6 July — The Cardigan Bar (5/198 Seymour St, Sandgate) (Tickets $15 at door)
Thursday 11 August — The Milk Factory (48 Montague Rd, South Brisbane) (Tickets $15 at door)