Radiating poise and soul equipped with a powerful narrative, the new single This Is For Us from singer-songwriter Maylene Yinarr is a sonically lush and thematically important outing, bustling with hope and healing from the talented Naarm artist. Marking the final single released as part of the self-titled Singing Our Futures EP, also out today, This Is For Us joins a stunning collection of songs from fellow artists Ridzyray, Kee’ahn and Emma Donovan, Madi Colville-Walker and Kiwat Kennell under the inaugural Singing Our Futures umbrella, aka The Archie Roach Foundation’s mentoring experience centred around helping First Nations artists on their songwriting and recording journeys.
A stirring and polished ballad, This Is For Us draws on Yinarr’s captivating knack for weaving creations that are equally haunting, uplifting and thought-provoking, while also seeking to inspire conversations about identity and vulnerability. Mentored by the Singing Our Futures leader and fellow artist Candice Lorrae to bring This Is For Us to life, Yinarr balances diverse inspiration alongside a poignant tribute to First Peoples native to any land, as she explains, “This song is a tribute to the frontier wars on the soil that is now known as ‘Australia’. The war that existed between the Aboriginal warriors, hunters and gatherers of many nations at the time of Invasion, colonisation and European settlement. We are their children. I am their daughter. For this song, I was inspired by our blak music royalty, as well as gospel music, blues roots, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Evanescence, Nina Simone, Etta James, Sia, Sigur Rós, Andrea Bocelli, Fleetwood Mac, Patty Griffin and others like Brandi Carlisle, Sara Bareilles, and Ingrid Michaelson.”
Penned from a place of hope and healing, This Is For Us also furthers Yinarr’s ever-growing legacy, with her work alongside both Singing Our Futures program leader Candice Lorrae and other mentors in and around the program also offering her a chance to rejuvenate her creative spirit and meaningfully connect with other creatives and her community following a devastating personal loss. “For This Is For Us, the amazing Candice Lorrae was my mentor and she is a fierce, talented and powerful woman,” shares Yinarr. “We’ve taken my music to a whole new level – within the program to my other tracks that will be released in 2024. I’ve also worked closely with Linc Yow Yeh (The Deans of Soul), I’ve met one of my idols, Gina Williams and Shellie Morris, Uncle Kutcha Edwards, and, as a community, I still have my mentors, Uncle Robert Bundle, Uncle Brad Brown (Kool Mist), Uncle Dave Arden and of course, my Mum, Sharon Slater and my Dad, Mel Burns. Singing Our Futures is so heart-warming and community driven. It’s been a beautiful road. My journey in the project was a heartbreaking start with the loss of my twin sister, Marjorie, so our family was in deep Sorry Business. When I joined the project, it was an exciting secret that I didn’t get to tell her before we lost her. I’ve drawn strength from that – I’ll keep going and living out my dream of music. She was my biggest fan. She would have been right here with me on this journey. Everything that I do, I do for my family and my community. Music is a core healing energy for us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I have been standing alongside incredible talent – our darling Madi Colville-Walker, Kiwat, Kee’ahn and Ridzyray. It’s an honour to start my recording career this way.”
Offering insight on the single art, Yinarr says, “It was exciting for me to engage a young First Nations graphic designer to design the single artwork, her name is Rubii Red. We worked together to create this artwork, Rubii really captured the essence of the song and the vision of our country when it is healing.”
Sparking her musical journey writing songs at the age of 15 at high school, Yinarr’s experience and inspiration under the tutelage of her high school music teachers led her to her ultimate creative pathway, with teachers Claudia Mameli, Sonny King Ismail and Peter Jones imparting a formula to songwriting that Yinarr still incorporates to this day – with the influence of her culture. Offering her an outlet that was missing in her youth, Yinarr learned to express and explore her feelings via music, with her first official song written in honour of her grandfather, Kamilaroi Elder Tom Slater. From songs penned in her Year 10 music book to adding her voice to the incredible inaugural Singing Our Futures program, Yinarr’s passion spills over vividly into her creative world, as does her admiration for the man behind the program: the late, great Archie Roach himself. “Uncle’s legacy has helped heal our people and shape our nation,” shares Yinarr. “Without his song with Aunty Ruby Hunter, Took The Children Away, our people would not have the international recognition and compassion that we do today. He will always be remembered. A man from Charcoal Lane, Ngar-go to the big stage, who showed the world the sounds of our longest living culture on Earth. He gave our generation the opportunity to follow in his footsteps with pride and with love. With my music, I am drawn to exploring the complex layers that we experience, the heartache and the victories. I love how we can tell a story in a melody and empty our soul into a song and in turn, fill up with the energy of music. I love the place that I go to in my mind and Spirit when I sing. I feel like that is the place beyond the stars.”
A meaningful and culturally safe songwriting program that supports emerging 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 since evolved into an impactful and ever-growing initiative for emerging artists and storytelling that spans genres and generations, culminating for 2023 with the long-awaited release today of its inaugural self-titled EP, Singing Our Futures out now.
Bringing together all previous singles unveiled under the Singing Our Future program this year, this extraordinary EP includes the spell-binding debut track Take No More, by Kee’ahn and Emma Donovan, the powerful dive into deep connection, Disconnected from Torres Strait Islander artist Kiwat Kennell, as well as the mesmerising ode to home and country via Yinarr Mulana Winyarr by Yorta Yorta creative Madi Colville-Walker, and pure serenity courtesy of the EP’s final track, Yinarr’s This Is For Us, with the latter unforgettably teaming Yinarr up with program leader Candice Lorrae.
“It’s been a journey and a memorable experience producing the Singing Our Futures program,” shares Lorrae. “There’s nothing else quite like it. It’s meaningful and we get to share our stories through music. This program was born from Uncle Archie’s legacy. We feel him and our ancestors standing with us throughout this journey. Working with Maylene as a mentor taught me so much about the power of healing through music. I knew that music was healing from the start, but Maylene Yinarr has proven it to me through her songs, kindness, strength and wisdom.”
“I feel this is a good way to land the EP release with Maylene’s song as the feature,” Lorrae concludes. “This If For Us, it’s all for us. Uncle Archie has really paved a way for us all and I’m extremely honoured continuing his legacy by running the Singing Our Futures program.”
Maylene Yinarr’s This Is For Us single and the Singing Our Futures EP are both out today via Cooking Vinyl Australia.