NAOMI PIGRAM Celebrating songs, stories and culture

Returning this summer, Songs for Freedom is set to bring the uplifting songs and stories from Ieramugadu (Roebourne), to the banks of the Swan River in a special evening for the whole family on Saturday, February 26 at Dyoondalup, Point Walter Riverside Park (get more info and tickets here). BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with one of the stars of the evening, Kimberley singer-songwriter Naomi Pigram, to find out how she became involved with the program, and why she’s excited to bring the songs and stories of our state’s north to a wider audience.

It’s great to have you in town for Songs for Freedom this weekend. How does it feel to be part of an event like this?

I feel excited and happy for the Roebourne community, to be able to bring the local concert Songs for Peace to a wider audience. It is an incredible opportunity to be involved here in Perth as well as Roebourne.

For those not familiar with the concert, what is it all about?

Songs for Freedom is about the healing of a community through a musical platform. Over 100 songs have been written by the Roebourne community over the last 11 years, and this process of telling stories through song has brought a lot of healing to the community. Songs for Freedom is a family-friendly event at Dyoondalup Point Walter Reserve which begins at 5pm with Noongar storytelling and craft and a giant immersive sand installation. At 7pm the music begins with a stellar cast of WA artists performing alongside accomplished Roebourne artists, celebrating the songs, stories and continuous living culture of the Pilbara. It’s going to be a moving and uplifting night, don’t miss it!

Naomi Pigram performing in Roebourne. Photo by Courtney McFarland.

How did you come to be involved with Big hART and the Roebourne community, and what has the experience been like?

Three years ago I was approached by Lucky Oceans to visit Roebourne as a visiting artist for Songs For Peace and be a part of the concert. Over the last three years I’ve gone to each event, and several other times to facilitate my own songwriting workshops with the community. I get the opportunity to work in the prison as part of the Big hART community programs. To be able to walk beside someone as they try to tell their story is a privilege and, as a singer/songwriter, to be able to help them do that is a deeply fulfilling experience.

It’s innate in me to help people, I’ve always been a helper and to do it through a creative platform, it feeds my own creative drive. You are helping to take a load off a community participant by walking through that songwriting journey with them, as it’s complete it lifts a weight for them.

How did you get into music in the beginning? There seem to be a lot of musicians in your family so I imagine that had something to do with it?

Music came to me in the womb and it’s always been a source of therapy for me throughout my life. Music has been my best friend. Music gets me through challenges, happiness, all of it. It’s how I express myself, it’s the form of expression I feel most comfortable with. Over the years I’ve had to learn the craft. Stage performance – whether presenting your own music or someone else – you have to have a certain level of craft. You have to be able to land the song. If there’s a true connection to that song, message and story, you will deliver it in a way that lands for somebody else. Sometimes you may not get a response at the end of the song, but someone might come to me in the break and let me know how it landed.

Naomi Pigram at Songs for Freedom 2021. Photo by Linda Dunjey.

Songs for Freedom is a great opportunity for Perth folk to appreciate the music, culture and stories from our own state we don’t often experience. What do you hope they take away from the occasion?

I hope that the journey that the Perth audience will come on with us will lighten any load,  and will give them insights into the journeys that led to the songs. I’ve developed my facilitating skills from my experience with Roebourne, and I’ve had feedback from community members that the songwriting is like counselling. So the songs come from deep places.

What are you looking forward to most about this event?

I just want to be with the Pilbara community again.

And looking beyond that to what is a pretty uncertain year for many of us, what’s something you are looking forward to in 2022?

To see things return to an almost normality for us creative people.

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