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13 May, 2022

YARRABAH TEEN PAVES HER WAY IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

THE Government-supported Australian Women in Music Awards (AWMA) announced the recipients of the third annual Queensland Regional Engagement Program that will take place on May 17 and 18, one of the eight winners was Aisha Pelham, the youngest of the bunch.

By Isabella Guzman Gonzalez

Aisha Pelham, making the most of her chance for stardom

Aisha is a 16-year-old Yarrabah resident and Gunggandji woman fascinated by music; she is a self-taught guitar player, singer and songwriter who draws her inspiration from her family. 

“My passion for music started with my great grandfather; he did a lot of singing around Cairns, and I watched him as I grew up, and I wanted to do what he did,” Aisha said.

“I started with little school performances, and the events started getting bigger and bigger, and I’m still growing.

” Networking has been a crucial part of Aisha’s career. Playing and connecting with other artists has been her way of growing. 

“Whenever I do gigs around Cairns, I’m just taking that opportunity to talk to people and connect with people because obviously, I’m new to this industry,” she said. 

“Reaching out to other music artists, talking to them and putting myself out there it’s essential to me.” 

The Australian Women in Music Awards run an annual Regional Engagement Program to bring artists and music practitioners from regional and remote areas like Yarrabah, White Rock, Toowoomba, Yeppoon and more for the AWMA conference and Award Ceremony on May 17 and 18. 

The program allows these artists to network, connect to the music industry and be part of conferences and conversations about what being a woman in music means.

“My nana sent me a Facebook link with the application; when I saw it, I didn’t pay much attention to it because I thought they probably wouldn’t pick someone who’s only 16 years old,” Aisha said.

“When they gave me a callback, I was shocked.”

Although Aisha thought her age was a deterrent, her talent shone through, and she became the youngest beneficiary of the program.

“I was so surprised because I didn’t expect that, being so young, I would get in,” she said.

But I was so happy because there are so many inspirational people in the AWMA, and I’m so excited to meet them, networking and putting myself out there even more.” 

This step has been significant as a musician and an Indigenous woman to represent Yarrabah and the Gunggandji people with her music. 

“Growing up, there weren’t a lot of Indigenous singers that I would see on TV,” Aisha said. 

“It makes me really proud that I can represent them and put that name out. 

Aisha Pelham

“It’s also about youth empowering, empowering the younger Indigenous generation because there are a lot of mischievous and naughty kids, so it’s important to have a good role model.” 

Aisha plans to make the most out of the program, and she is most excited about hearing other women in music share their experiences with her. 

“I think it’s impactful just by meeting all the lovely women there and hearing their experience,” she said. 

“For them to reflect those experiences on me, learn from them and what they have to say and take in their guidance.

” Although Aisha is unsure of what the future holds for her, the most important thing is to have music in that future. 

“I just hope that I never stop music,” she said. 

“Keep having that motivation to keep going, and I hope to start putting my own music out soon. 

“I want to keep working and networking and bettering myself to do more in the future.” Aisha wants other Indigenous women to put their talent out because the world needs to hear and see them. 

“Don’t ever think too small because there’s a world out there waiting for Indigenous women, whether younger or older,” she said. 

“Indigenous women shouldn’t limit themselves to just one thing.”   


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