PNG soul queen

Out of culture comes creativity and strength.

At least that's the case for Papua New Guinea singer, Ngaiire (Ny-ree).

Being part of an ancient culture is enormously empowering to her but at times has led to an identity struggle.

She said coming from a third-world country as a child and having to adapt to society in Lismore on the North Coast was a shock.

“When I was growing up it was sometimes a struggle to find a balance between you, your culture and everyone around you,” the 24-year-old said.

But Ngaiire is thankful to have had the opportunities that Australia offered.

She is the first PNG woman to study a Bachelor of Jazz and is also the first to release a CD single in her native country.

She has also managed to hold her culture as close to her heart as possible. One way she has done this is through the memory of her grandmother.

“At the beginning of each of my performances I do a PNG chant. My grandmother taught it to me and would sing it to me every night before I went to bed,” she said.

The meaning of the chant is to tell the audience that she is here to tell a story, 'so listen up'.

And a lot of people have.

Rolling Stone recently recognised her as a rising Australian star, she features on Paul Mac's ARIA chart topper It's Not Me, It's You, she's toured world-wide with urban roots crew Blue King Brown, and she was hand-picked by John Butler to play prior to his set at the 2009 East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

Ngaiire's soul voice is so pure and captivating she is an artist worth seeing on Sunday, April 12 at the Bluesfest.

The Daily Examiner still has two double passes to giveaway to the festival. Coupons have been running for the past week. The competition closes Tuesday, March 31.

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