Kardajala Kirridarra

Kardajala Kirridarra directly translates to ‘Sandhill Women’… Kardajala is the name of the mysterious bush woman from the sand hills behind the community of Marlinja.

The band Kardajala Kirridarra who are the descendants of this mysterious bush woman consist of strong women from the Northern Territory communities of Marlinja and Kulumindini (Elliott). Melding the contemporary with the traditional, the music they create is sung in both Mudburra and English and tells the story of the connection between Aboriginal women and country as a reminder about the importance of women as creators.

The songs have been specifically created to empower women in all aspects of their role as creators from young girls through to being mothers and grandmothers.

This collaboration has focused on honouring language and culture and Kardajala Kirridarra sing in both Mudburra and English. This has been an opportunity for the band to give life to the language of their ancestors through poetry and song and it is a powerful example of the synergy between traditional and contemporary Australian Indigenous music and the importance of sharing language and culture.

The band was brought together by the Barkly Regional Council’s National award winning ‘Barkly Desert Cultures’ Multimedia program. A youth Diversion program aimed at using music and film to express stories and social issues of young people living in the Barkly Region of the NT. It brought Beatrice to the Marlinja where she met Eleanor and there they connected over Bjork, bush medicine and a mutual love of Larlija (tea) and music.

From these early days till now the band have gone on to win an NT Song of the Year award in the folk category, performed at Golden Plains Festival, Wide Open Spaces and Barunga Festival and were the first all-female band to perform at Bush Bands Bash in 2016.

The band consists of Eleanor ‘Nalyiri’ Dixon, who is a strong Mudbarra woman from Marlinja. Eleanor is one of the main song-writers, composers and founders of the Kardajala Kirridarra. As an artist but more importantly as a person she is a true believer in creating and expressing equality. She is passionate about giving voice to all women. An artist in her own right she has toured and performed all over the country in her family band Rayella, having performed with orchestras, The Violent Femmes and The Desert Divas.

Janey ‘Namija’ Dixon, Eleanor’s aunty was the key translator who helped to oversee Kardajala’ stories coming to life in Mudburra language. As a story-teller and poet, and a strong female leader in her community she connects people through the stories she brings out.

MC Kayla Jackson is a proud Mudburrra woman from Kulumindini community. As the youngest member of the band Kayla has become a role model for other young women by showing the initiative to connect with a deeper understanding of Mudburra language. She is a rapper and poet who expresses the truths of her story and community life that will touch you.

These stories are held by the production skills of Beatrice, the beats were written by Eleanor and Beatrice in Marlinja, Tennant Creek and Melbourne and use sounds from the surrounding lands, such as seed pods, thunders storms and clap sticks made by Eleanor’s father. The music was primarily made during the intense heat of the summer months in a big hall out the back of Marlinja. The songs were then taken to Melbourne where they were co-produced, mixed and mastered by Marc Peckham aka Monkey Marc.

Beatrice ‘Nalyiri’ Lewis is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and electronic producer who splits her time between Melbourne and the Central desert of Australia. She has recently garnered industry attention with an invitation to attend the inaugural Red Bull Music Academy in Montreal in 2016 and is due to release her premier EP in the coming months. She is also one of the founding members of the eclectic Haiku Hands, an innovative four-piece, female driven outfit and is also the DJ for Joelistics.

For the past five year she has been a workshop facilitator and advocate for Indigenous woman’s music throughout Australia. She has worked primarily with MusicNT as one of the founding facilitators for the highly successful Sista Sounds and Desert Divas program in Central Australia and is now focusing her time on Kardajala Kirridarra.)

The resulting songs are a powerful blend of traditional and contemporary music sung in a rarely heard but beautiful Indigenous language. The Kardajala Kirridarra woman will take you on a journey through their heart songs of this beautiful desert country.