Marking the powerful debut for the Singing Our Futures program, The Archie Roach Foundation’s mentoring experience helping emerging First Nations artists on their songwriting and recording journeys, the brand new single Take No More brings together the illustrious talents of North Queensland rising star Kee’ahn and ARIA-nominated singer-songwriter Emma Donovan. Coated with smooth reggae and silky soul while championing solidarity and strength, Take No More is a compelling and eloquent first cut from the forthcoming Singing Our Futures EP, which will officially unveil later this year on Cooking Vinyl Australia. Fans can also catch this stunning new track alongside an incredible showcase of artists involved in the Singing Our Futures program on Thursday July 13 at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel, with all ticket sales going to The Archie Roach Foundation.
Drawing sonic inspiration from the likes of Mavis Staples, Ayo, Coloured Stone, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin and India Arie, Take No More champions power, truth and resistance as a dynamic First Nations anthem. A track that initially began life through yarns over cups of tea before progressing into the studio, Take No More started from a phrase penned by Donovan while Kee’ahn strummed their guitar and the pair imagined people chanting those very words. Writing their own verses before meshing their contrasting lyrical flow and melodic patterns, the end result of Take No More amassed a powerful array of voices and talents alongside the two leading powerhouse artists, with backing vocals courtesy of Jessica Hitchcock, Kiwat Kennell, Candice Lorrae and Brian Lloyd, and instrumentals, drums and percussion courtesy of guitarist Ben Yarram, bass by Juanita Sumner, and keys and horns by Stephen Maxwell.
A process that saw Kee’ahn and Donovan evolve together over Zoom yarns and multiple demo versions along the way, Take No More showcases the immense talent and connectivity between the pair, while firmly paving the way for a slew of important releases yet to come as part of Singing Our Futures. The stunning instrumentation on display throughout the new single is powerfully elevated via the decisive thematic essence driving Take No More, as Kee’ahn explains, “We started writing Take No More around Invasion Day Jan 26th. Both of us were feeling a lot of emotions that come with the date and feeling inspired by grassroots mob who organise to educate and liberate our peoples. We spoke about how our leaders across generations stand strong and staunch against ongoing challenges, the act of carrying the torch forward passed down from your elders so our future generations can do the same or ideally won’t have to at all. We spoke about solidarity and how liberation is a joint fight with many hands needed. It also feels like this song has grown over the year, during which time beautiful Black leaders and changemakers have passed on into dreaming – this song feels dedicated to them. To Uncle Archie Roach and Aunty Ruby Hunter and to Uncle Jack Charles. They inspire me/us to sing our truth for our past, present and futures.”
A meaningful and culturally safe songwriting program that supports young First Nations artists to tell their story through songwriting, Singing Our Futures was devised pre-COVID and was one of the leading programs of the Archie Roach Foundation. Led by Candice Lorrae (The Merindas), an established singer-songwriter and music producer with Jawoyn and Torres Strait Islander roots, Singing Our Futures has evolved into an impactful and ever-growing initiative for emerging artists and storytelling that spans genres and generations. And, as Lorrae explains, the program itself is set to prosper further into 2023 and beyond, “Uncle Archie wanted to establish a program that supported our young artists in their songwriting and recording journeys. The program builds important connections for the young artists within the music industry. Singing Our Futures has seen five emerging artists receive mentoring from some of the country’s leading First Nations legends including Emily Wurramurra, Dan Sultan, Emma Donovan and Dobby. Kee’ahn, Kiwat Kennell, Ridzy Ray, Maylene Yinarr and Madi Colville-Walker have each recorded stunning new works through the Singing Our Futures program and together have supported and performed alongside each other, sharing their musical journey’s, culture, and their dreams for the future at the Port Fairy Folk Festival, BIGSOUND, St Kilda Festival and Byron Bay Bluesfest. We are super excited to be releasing an EP through Cooking Vinyl Australia scheduled for later this year.”
Following their debut in 2020, releasing their first single Better Things during lockdown, Kee’ahn defied the odds surrounding musicians globally at the time, declaring their powerful blend of soul, R&B and pop to the world alongside lush vocals and instrumentals, and empowered lyricism. A Kuku Yalanji, Jirrbal, Zenadth Kes artist hailing from the tropics of Far North Queensland, Kee’ahn won the 2020 NIMA Archie Roach Award and was named Best Emerging Artist at the Music Vic Awards that same year. With performances under their belt supporting Hiatus Kaiyote, Paul Kelly, Julia Jacklin, Morcheeba, Alice Skye, Birdz and many more, Kee’ahn also recently released sunsets, a track produced by Alice Ivy, and is now primed to appear live in action alongside Emma Donovan on Thursday July 13 to christen Take No More.
An acclaimed ARIA Award-nominated and award-winning Indigenous artist, Emma Donovan first set foot on stage with her renowned family band The Donovans, with Donovan performing church song renditions alongside her mother Agnes, her five uncles and maternal grandparents Micko and Aileen. Part of the famed Donovan family singers of the Gumbaynggirr people on her mother’s side, and of the Yamatji people on her father’s side, Donovan has toured and performed with the likes of Paul Kelly, The Teskey Brothers, Yothu Yindi, The Meltdown and Jen Cloher, as well as with the late Uncle Archie Roach and Aunty Ruby Hunter. From her work with Melbourne rhythm combo The Putbacks as well as The Black Arm Band, Donovan is armed with swoon-worthy vocals, intimate storytelling and a commanding grasp on everything from funk to blues, soul and beyond; and it’s little wonder that Donovan has been dubbed one of Australia’s finest artists.
The official celebration of the release of Take No More and the launch of Singing Our Futures will take place on Thursday July 13, with all proceeds going to The Archie Roach Foundation to honour Uncle Archie Roach’s legacy, and to also support the continuation of programs for the next generation of First Nations Artists. Donovan will lead this unforgettable evening, topped off with a stunning performance of Take No More by Donovan and Kee’ahn, as Kee’ahn reveals: “Fans can expect a new chapter in my music journey! One that tells the story of writing Take No More with sis Emma and exploring and expanding my lyricism and musicality with her mentorship and inspiration of strength! But also an experience that is joyful and connective. I’m looking forward to celebrating this music with community and everyone who made it happen.”
Take No More is out today via Cooking Vinyl Australia.
The Singing Our Futures EP will be released later this year.
SINGING OUR FUTURES – UPCOMING TOUR DATES:
THURS 13 JUL | CORNER HOTEL, RICHMOND VIC | 18+
Tickets available from www.cornerhotel.com | 1300 762 545 | All Oztix Outlets
SUN 30 JUL | BRUNSWICK BALLROOM, BRUNSWICK VIC | ALL AGES
Tickets available from TBC | TBC | All TBC Outlets