The best in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Music

In the studio with Sondra Paulson

Sondra Paulson is a talented young singer with an amazing voice and a very bright future. Having already performed at The Dreaming festival and WOMADelaide, Sondra has her first album coming out in August and dropped by the Deadly Sounds studio to chat with Rhoda Roberts about music, life and making it in the music biz.

Rhoda: You have an incredible background heritage wise, can you tell us about that?

Sondra: Well I’m definitely a mixed bag of lollies. My father is Aboriginal with South Sea Islander descent and we have ancestry tied back to Vanuatu and Tanna Island; my mother is half Maori, half Irish-Australian.

Rhoda: What a great mix! So when did you start singing?

Sondra: Well, because our whole family is completely musical, pretty much all of us sing and about half of us play guitar. It started in the church – my grandfather is a reverend and my father’s a pastor – so pretty much since I learnt to talk I was learning to sing, but I didn’t start writing until I hit my teens and got my first guitar.

Rhoda: What do you think people want to hear from the young voice of Aboriginal Australia today?

Sondra: Well, I can’t speak for every Indigenous person or what they want to hear…

Rhoda: I know that was a really big question, wasn’t it?

Sondra: Yes! I’m not sure, Aunty Rhoda. I’m still finding my way in music, but I think it’s always important to look at the past and acknowledge the past, but I also think it’s important to hear stories of our futures leaders, because unfortunately, our elders won’t always be with us and we are the next generation. We’re going to be elders one day, too, so definitely our stories are important stories.

Rhoda: You have a few love songs in your repertoire … how easy is it to write a love song?

Sondra: At the moment it’s not too hard. To tell you the truth, I’ve never been in love before, but I draw so much great inspiration from stories around me, from other people. With the love songs I’m definitely telling other peoples stories at the moment, people that I meet. When I see their love I get really inspired by that and like to put it down on paper.

Rhoda: For any young people listening thinking they want to be a musician, it’s such a competitive industry, what advice would you give them?

Sondra: My advice would be to create goals. I think that’s one thing I learned the hard way, to set goals with your songwriting and musicianship. If you don’t, it can take forever to get something down.

Rhoda: What are your goals for the next five years?

Sondra: To get my album out. At the end of this year I’m going to New York to share my album and network with musicians, so within the next five years I’d like to have a few more albums out and hopefully have my music being played in America, Australia and Europe.

Sondra will release her debut album Sondra in August. Check her MySpace page for info


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