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A CHOIR TASTE

Down the ‘line from somewhere in rural Victoria Danielle Caruana, the ‘Mama Kin’ in Mama Kin Spender sounds suitably excited talking about the Spring Is Golden tour she and Tommy Spender have embarked on this last month.  

“The tour’s been brilliant,” Caruana says. “We’d always planned to do regional outreach areas since the launch of the album, and it’s been really lovely going through NSW last week, up to Wagga Wagga and Katoomba and before that we were in Caloundra and Port Macquarie; then these regional Victoria shows in Red Hill, Anglesea and Castlemaine. We’re finishing up in Fremantle and Bridgetown, which will be really special shows.”

The WAM Award-winning Mama Kin Spender’s appearance for Blues at Bridgetown is with Margaret River’s The Chorale Sea. The Fremantle gig at Port Beach Garden Bar is with the WAAPA Gospel Choir and Starlight Hotel Choir.

“It’s a really lovely way to end our year of shows based on this choir-engagement model,” Caruana says. “We’re feeling pretty chuffed.”

The Blues at Bridgetown appearance with The Chorale Sea is highly anticipated, with acclaimed performances previously at the Nannup and Fairbridge festivals.

“The Chorale Sea is a choir that we actually curated,” Caruana reveals. “We asked an amazing local singer, Michelle Spriggs, if she would curate a choir for us and she basically picked 16 singers that she has worked with in the Margaret River community. So it’s been an amazing experience for her, going into a choir leadership role and brilliant for us to sing with so many really great singers. It’s really good.”

From the outset of the Mama Kin Spender album, Golden Magnetic, it was their vision to tour the country performing the songs with community choirs. The vision has become both a reality and incredibly rewarding experience.

“The vision was around a deeper community engagement,” Caruana explains, “rather than coming into a town, playing on a stage and rolling out the next day, we would come into town, meet a group of people, perform with those people, for their people. So one less degree of separation between us and the audience.

“Now that was a fairly hare-brained idea, we realised in hindsight. However that concept, that idea, has become the absolute cornerstone to all of our creative works since that conversation. It’s really bizarre how it took hold of us and got under our skins. The reality of it is that it’s way richer and broader and more rewarding than we ever could have imagined.

“I think when you connect with people through song and through your voices something chemical happens, you just fall into each other in a way. So from the time you meet these choirs, to the time you’re spilling off the stage with them some 24-48 hours later, you feel connected. Deeply connected with each other.”

The experience has not only created new memories, but strong friendships.

“With a choir like WAAPA or The Chorale Sea who we’ve performed a few times with, when we meet up again it’s like, ‘oh hey! Oh my God, how are you?’ We’ve clicked; we’ve worked the shows and been on stage together. We’ve made a bond out of the experience. It feels all the kinds of rewarding that you could ever want it to be.”

With so many individuals involved each show is therefore an individual experience, unique unto itself.

“Absolutely,” affirms Caruana, “and that’s the whole point of it - the idea that every place sounds and feels a little different.”

Further to this, Mama Kin Spender will be embarking on a tour next year called the Sound Of Your Town where they will co-host shows with choirs in their town halls.

“It’s kind of flipping the model,” Caruana explains, “whereby rather than us deciding where we want to go, the choirs decide.”

One gets the feeling that even as a lifelong musician, Caruana has found a new kind of joy with the community choir experience and has learnt a few things as well.

“It’s taught me that people are far more open than you give them credit for,” she says. “People are far more willing to lend their voices and themselves to something that they don’t completely know.

“That’s been a wonderful experience; seeing people’s enthusiasm and willingness to get on board something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.”

Mama Kin Spender and The Chorale Sea perform at Blues at Bridgetown on Saturday, November 10, from 9pm on the Geegelup stage. Tickets via bluesatbridgetown.com.au/festival-tickets/

The final Spring Is Golden tour date happens on Sunday, November 11, at the Port Beach Garden Bar with support from Jacob Diamond. Details via www.facebook.com/events/616390178756407/

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