Enjoy an afternoon of indigenous culture and music

Michael Birk is set to bring the music of Aboriginal artists to the Northern Beaches for the 10th year running, with the Singing Up Country event to be held on 7 July. Michael is a Yaegl man from the Clarence River region in Northern NSW, who resides in Cromer. He’s also a musician who established the event in 2013 as part of the Gai-mariagal Festival, a celebration of the oldest living culture on earth which has started and runs until 14 July.

This year the festival has the theme of ‘Keep the flame alive’ and encompasses Sorry Day, NAIDOC week and National Reconcilliation Week.

Singing Up Country will be held at St Anthony in the Field Catholic Church in Terrey Hills and features a number of First Nations musicians and bands, including Michael’s own group, the Recognisers. “I’ve named us that, I think it’s a good name,” Michael says. “It’s very powerful because this whole era that we’re in right now is the recognition era.”

The afternoon will open with a smoking ceremony

Emma Hicks

Michael says the band’s music, including songs like Special Balm, ‘reflect my cultural identity as well as what I’ve been through in life’.

Alongside the Recognisers will be folk band The Stiff Gins; Green Hand Band, a reggae group; Magpie, GiiMusic and Spilt Coffee.

Michael says this event is for everyone to enjoy. “I like to use this terminology that’s called ‘cultural safety,’” he explains. “It’s a safe space for people to be whoever they are, wherever they come from.

“They come and they celebrate the talented Aboriginal musicians, but also we talk about the justice that we seek, the current fight for social change. But everyone is in a safe space to be there and share – as well as enjoy really top-notch music.”

Singing Up Country is held in association with the Frenchs Forest Parish Social Justice Group, and the afternoon will also feature a bush talk and walk; a smoking ceremony; a display by Bush to Bowl; supper and an Aboriginal art raffle.

For more Gai-mariagal Festival events, visit gai-mariagal-festival.com.au

Singing up country

When: 7 July, from 2.45pm

Where: St Anthony in the Fields Catholic Church, 46 Myoora Road, Terrey Hills

Tickets: trybooking.com/CRXDR