Yarning with Jo Randell
Meet the choir
Jo Randell - Choir Coordinator
It’s extraordinary. From the outset, Della Rae (Morrison) and Jessie Lloyd said we need to encourage everybody to come and sing Aboriginal songs. That was their wisdom. Once people open their minds to Nyoongar language, then they open their mind and hearts to the people, to the way it was, the way it is, how things have changed, how contemporary Aboriginal culture is a living thing.
Della Rae Morrison - Musical Director
I'm a Bibbulmun woman from the South West of Western Australia.
The members come with a thirst to learn and they’re learning in a gentle and safe environment, through music and harmonies and singing together with other people...with Aboriginal people. Madjitil Moorna obviously really are working towards reconciliation and closing the gap, to bring healing to our community. Our songs are very soothing, nurturing and healing. So when Aboriginal people hear our songs, they’re often very moved emotionally and a lot of people can begin the healing process. I’d like to see more Aboriginal people join the group and not be so shame, and just know that they’re welcome to come along into this beautiful environment and lovely atmosphere. Come along!
Jan Applin - Chairperson
I was a primary school principal and worked in the Education Department for 43 years. When I first came to MM (2013) I said ‘I’m coming to sing. I’m not taking on any admin role’, because I had just retired. I just wanted to sing, enjoy people’s company and bring a bit of pleasure to people. But over the last 12 months I’ve thought it’s time to step up and actually try and assist people to keep Madjitil Moorna rolling along.
Kobi Morrison - Musical Accompanist
I’m a Bibbulmun marmun.
Madjitil Moorna is where I have the majority of my good vibes that get me going through the week. I play the guitar for the choir. Being able to help them to achieve that perfect sound, when you get that sense of achievement, everybody is just so giddy afterwards. They feel a natural high. This has expanded into a whole lot more than just a choir. It’s also like a giant friend group, a giant family. It’s become just like an entourage that gets things done. I always hesitate to call it just a simple choir. Eventually it might just be like a way of life.
Lee West - Guest Artist
I’m a guitar player, singer, songwriter and dancer. My mob are from up north. I was born in Carnarvon and my family are the Mulguna mob.
I was always shy at high school but I love performing and I love sharing Aboriginal culture. It’s always a pleasure to work with the choir and I do believe you’re breaking down barriers and educating a lot of people, including Aboriginal people. It’s just getting bigger and bigger and better.
Lee Peters - Singer
I’ve been with the choir for 9 years. I’ve always been interested in Aboriginal history and Aboriginal peoples’ connection to the land, and that’s always been part of my work as well. It’s really nice to know that our choir sings together as a united group of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and we do make that difference that means kids can feel that sense of pride, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.
Mike Bowden - Singer
I like the collective consciousness. Everyone here wants to sing. I’m the first to admit I probably won’t make money from my singing ability, but I love it! I walk in the door and I feel welcome. As long as I have the words, I just belt them out, and when I walk out I feel 10 feet tall. The therapeutic value of singing is just amazing.
Pauline Vigus - Singer
It’s not just a choir. It’s a community of people who’re really interesting, from all walks of life and I guess, all with the same ideas of singing, learning, healing and wanting to bridge cultures. That’s what we’re about and that’s what we try and do.
Rachel Mason - Singer
My mob are Ngarluma Yindjibarndi people in the Pilbara, nor ‘west. I’ve been down here for 3 years.
Being a musician, I tell you truly, I can hear music through the birds, through the trees. I hear it through the leaves, the waves of the ocean, the waves of the rivers. It’s the people we’re with, the warmth, the feel, and the musicians themselves. There’s a lot of talent in this choir and it’s good to see some other sisters and brothers like ourselves. For me it’s just being around the people who love music, love to sing, love to be around us people. We love to be around these people as well. It’s a good feeling. It’s a good groove. There are connections, yeah.
Mary-Jo Harris - Singer
I must have been in the choir 6 years now. It’s just gone so quickly. It’s a blur of fun really. I don’t think you’d get a more eclectic bunch of people if you actually advertised. When I come here, no matter how tired I am or no matter what sort of day I’ve had, the minute I walk in, I just love it. I always leave happy. It’s definitely the people. I feel like it’s a family.
Steve Hammond - Singer
Monday nights, it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling. I can be exhausted but I’ll walk out uplifted at the end of the evening so it’s therapy! Loving therapy! Each time I have a conversation with somebody I think, gee we’ve got a lot in common. I just realise how that shared commitment to reconciliation and being on the journey brings people together who really connect. That community is really important.
Angela Highstead - Singer
The music is important of course and I’ve loved the music and had some wonderful experiences but I guess for me it’s each time there’s a little window of opportunity with Aboriginal people. A choir sings, that is what they do. However Madjitil Moorna is so much more than singing. Without a political agenda, in a gentle way, the choir is able to bring issues of an indigenous nature to the wider community.