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Shout Sister Shout: Emily Wurramara (IWD 2024)

By: undefined undefinedApril 04, 2024

Motherhood & Music – Not just the Lullaby

Approx. 6 minutes to read

An auspicious day for Emily Wurramara is here. Today 4 April 2024, sees her release her new single Midnight Blues. Emily wants this track to be a safe space for people to feel ALL their feelings! She explains: 

“It’s precious to show people why this life is beautiful and worth sticking around for; being vulnerable in itself has so much strength & staunchness. I want to help people to release, cry, and let it out – this is normal because we live in a fucked up society, of course we feel shit – I want ‘Midnight Blues’ to be a safe space to feel. I look at [daughter] Kiki and think how can I make this place better, safe, and peaceful?”

Emily Wurramara
Singer/songwriter, Emily Wurramara. Photo credit: Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore

I am honoured that Emily spent time to yarn with me. She unpacks her experience of motherhood and music: she talks about her growth, how she finds peace, and shares the story of how, in the face of societal pressure, she took her music to a whole new level. 

Sonia de Freitas: Hi Emily, how are you and where does our interview find you today?

Midnight Blues – New single by Emily Wurramara

Emily Wurramara: Hi, thanks so much for having me for a yarn. I’m doing very good, I’m here in my home, in Lutruwita, on Palawa Country, just taking it easy and resting before I head off on the mainland for my shows. I’ve also got a new single out called ‘Midnight Blues‘ so that’s very exciting. 

SdF: Can you tell me a little more about your life as a mother and musician?

EW: My life as a mum can be full on sometimes, you come back from doing shows and working and it feels like you stop but you don’t at the same time. My daughter is 6 now and goes to school for 5 days, which honestly, is a bit weird and I’m still getting used to it. My daughter is very much creative in her own right, her and I usually jam while we’re cooking dinner, and she comes up with insane melodies. I think she’s a storyteller too, like me. We’ve found a good, happy, chaotic balance. 

SdF: What, if anything, may have changed for you in relation to the way you thought about music and your ambitions as a musician once you became a mother?

EW: So many things changed, My perception of certain circumstances, my wanting to grow and be a better person for my daughter. I think when I was younger, I was reckless, as we all are, in a society so limitless. When I had my daughter, my perspective changed. She is my peace and always reminds me of my vulnerability and how powerful, loving, and sacred that is. This is something that I try to do with my music: remind people to look inwards. I think my daughter has had a big influence on that, especially in how I approach writing my songs these days. 

SdF: How does the experience of motherhood influence your creativity and composition process?

EW: I think being a mother and creating art is so expressive, I feel like I honestly FEEL DEEPER, because I’m a mum. I’m more empathetic and understanding, but I’m also more stauncher and strict with my truth-telling. I was so uncomfortable with becoming a mum, it was difficult at first and I got the hang of it in the end, and am still trying to get the hang of it to be honest. This ‘uncomfortability’ has helped me grow, I’ve done things that I’d thought I’d never do, and that’s pretty cool. The experience as a mum has given me a lot of  “why nots” – like, why can’t I do that? It’s very inspiring and liberating. 

SdF: How do you maintain your artistic identity and career trajectory while raising your children?

EW: It takes a village. It truly does, and I am so grateful for my little village of community that is around me. I have a very supportive partner, who holds down the fort while I’m away, sometimes I’ll take my little one with me. I’ve worked very hard to implement rituals, whether that’s going for a walk together, doing yoga or qi gong. Also, taking a break, whether that’s renting a little apartment to myself or having some “me time”. You should never feel guilt for wanting to take care of yourself first.

SdF: What challenges have you have faced in balancing the demands of motherhood with the demands of a music career? Conversely, can you share any unique opportunities brought about by motherhood?

EW: There are so many challenges you face. Honestly, you miss them a lot, that’s for sure. It’s very hard to leave your little one to work, but if they don’t see you doing what you love, then they’ll never think that is okay for them to do the same. I think that having a good crew of mummas in music around me has been a driving force, we message, we talk and yarn about the good and the shit storms (literally) that are happening. I’ve been very blessed to be a part of that community for ages and see the way people I’ve toured with or worked with, include their children in what they do. I’m constantly reminded that this system is based on a “man’s world” – men who were raised by mothers who had dreams too. 

SdF: What role do societal expectations and stereotypes about motherhood play in shaping the public perception of musicians who are mothers? 

EW: A common phrase I hear is “Where is your baby? She not here with you?” or ” I don’t know how you can do it, I could never leave my bub at home while I work” but these types of things are rarely ever said to men. When I was pregnant, I had a lot of people ask me if I was going to give up my career because I’m:

a) a Blak woman 

b) under 22

c) Having a baby 

The next year I had Kiki, my debut album Milyakburra (2018) got nominated for an ARIA and I accomplished so much within the year, while touring with my baby. 

I think society has such an old-school way of thinking when it comes to the expectations of mothers who are creatives. 

SdF: What do you want for the future of music and for your children?

EW: I would like to see my children live in a world where music is appreciated from all corners of genres, that trends don’t rule the charts, and the 70s style of connecting with music comes back – cause that era, when it came to music, was so amazing. So much freedom in expression, and people actually listened to what you were saying. 

To learn more about Emily Wurramara visit: emilywurramara.au/bio 

To hear and purchase Emily Wurramara’s music visit: emilywurramara.bandcamp.com 

To buy tickets to Emily’s Live show on Gadigal Country @ Waywards (7:00pm, Fri 5 April, 2024) visit: moshtix.com.au 

For more information on International Women’s Day visit: internationalwomensday.com 

Sonia de Freitas – Author
Photo credit: Cathy Kirkpatrick

Keep an eye out for my next interview in the Shout Sister Shout: Motherhood & Music – Not just the Lullaby series where I interview Caitlin Yeo.

Did you miss the previous Shout Sister Shout instalment? Read Kate Wadey’s interview here.

Thank you to Eastside Radio for making the Shout Sister Shout: Motherhood & Music – Not just the Lullaby interview series possible.

I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the many lands on which I am privileged to work, learn, teach, create and perform. I extend my respects to all First Nations People. 

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