Acclaimed Indigenous vocalist Emma Donovan and Melbourne rhythm combo The Putbacks burst onto the Australian scene with their album Dawn in 2014, announcing a new voice in Australian soul music. The collaboration has won friends and admirers all over the world.
The project was born of Emma and the band’s shared love for classic American soul and the protest music of Indigenous Australia. Shades of every soul record you ever liked sneak through, from Al Green’s Hi Records era to Stacks of Stax. It’s all there, with Coloured Stone and Warumpi Band influences giving the project a uniquely Australian slant.
Emma grew up singing church songs with her grandparents on the North coast of New South Wales and her first secular gigs were singing in the family band, The Donovans, with her mother and five uncles. Throughout her career, she has toured and recorded with many of the mainstays of Indigenous music from Archie Roach to Dan Sultan, and was a part of the Black Arm Band project. It was in that band that Emma met members of The Putbacks, and their journey together began.
The Putbacks are grizzled veterans of all the tours and all the studios. As individuals, they’re the players behind bands like Hiatus Kaiyote, The Bombay Royale, D.D. Dumbo, Swooping Duck, and The Meltdown. Emma Donovan and the Putbacks have together released three studio albums—Dawn, Crossover, and Under These Streets.
The March 24 performance is slated for a 7:30 p.m. curtain. For venue information, including safety protocols, visit the music hall’s website.