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Hitting The Right Notes

Name: Jodie Kell

Maningrida is a community known for producing top-quality Indigenous music such as the legendary Letterstick Band. Now with the help of teacher Jodie Kell, the great musical tradition of Maningrida is set to continue.

Jodie has been teaching Year 11 at Maningrida High School in Arnhem Land for two years. Being a small community school, she teaches a wide range of subjects to her class of 15 students. She is also involved with the girls’ volleyball team, which recently won the Northern Territory competition.

Outside of the classroom, Jodie’s passion has always been music, and she is a member of the group Cinco Locos, who play an electronic style of music with a Latin feel. Jodie plays trumpet within the group.

In fact, it was Maningrida’s rich musical history that drew Jodie and husband Gavin to the remote Top End community. Since then, Jodie has played a key role in the school’s music program. She has helped form Maningrida’s first girl band, MGB, which is made up of students from the high school.

As part of the music program, under the tutelage of Jodie, students are instructed in drum, bass, guitar, keyboards and computer recordings.

The band MGB is the first of its kind in the Top End and can already boast of having shared the stage with Yothu Yindi, which recently performed at the school.

As well as teaching the girls, Jodie also sits in with the band to play guitar and provides back-up singing at performances.

Jodie sees her role as a female musician as a positive example to the girls. The region is known for its abundance of male talent but has few female singers and musicians. In this way, Jodie’s work and the achievements of MGB are blazing a new trail for female musicians in Arnhem Land. Thanks to Jodie, the girls in the Maningrida community are now becoming aware of the many benefits that come from musical collaboration and expression.

“I think music makes them feel good about themselves,” says Jodie. “Most importantly, it’s fun and it gives them enjoyment.”

For many of the girls in MGB, the ability to play in a band has opened up positive new avenues to pursue in the future.

Jodie is also finding it a beneficial experience. “For me, it’s really rewarding to be able to pass on skills that make people more confident and helps them to work out what they want to do in the future.”

Already, Jodie can see the opportunity for girls in the group to go on with their ambitions for future musical careers. In the meantime, the development of the band continues. Paul Kelly is coming to Maningrida this month, where he will meet the girls and perhaps be able to pass on some useful advice.

“Hopefully, in the near future, we can get a few recordings and a film clip, and establish a network with other female artists in other areas,” says Jodie.

With Jodie as a driving force and plenty of talent and potential to boot, Deadly Vibe will definitely be keeping a close eye on MGB. The only way is up.

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