There are eight songbirds on the Mornington Peninsula who just love to hum, stomp, click and croon together. Girls who love to harmonise and soar a cappella or with percussion and to tell the stories of far and wide lands where women come together as they work, sing and care for each other.
They are called Ling Marra.
Ling Marra is an Indigenous Australian gathering song meaning ‘Let us all come together’. Named after this song, the group, which was founded in 2005 by Terryn Hickinbotham and a few friends in a little house in Mornington, is all about women supporting women through Indigenous music. This group of distinctly diverse gals, who hail from marketing, sustainability, teaching, business, food/wine and librarianship sectors, have been singing across the Peninsula at various charitable and cultural events for years.
They have just performed on stage with Emily Wurramara and Monique Brumby at Music On The Hill’s International Women’s Day Show in March, have supported the legend Archie Roach and performed at Jeff’s Shed in South Wharf too. All without a director or an arranger. It seems that Terryn, Claire Burrows, Bek Hyde, Carolyn McDonald, Jill McPartlane, Zoe Palin, Yolande Strengers and Kelly World can get along and produce beautiful music without all the hoo-ha.
Claire explains: “This is our stress relief and we work well together. We all love Indigenous music and gather songs from around the world. The songs we choose are organic and chosen because of their meaning. The tempo isn’t as important as the place we sing from. When possible, we seek permission from the original artist and always perform the songs respectfully. It is very important to remain authentic to the song and the culture from which it comes.”
Terryn continues: “The songs originate from West and South Africa, New Zealand and Indigenous Australia. Some of them are folk, blues or jazz-influenced. When we perform live we think of the audience demographic and adjust the playlist to suit the crowd. All songs are sung in native language. Our harmonies are unique and we take turns singing solos. We find a spot and sit in it, sort of like the muscle memory of harmony.”
All Ling Marra songs have a message, whether it’s a call for people to stand together in the Maori folk song Tutira Mai Nga Iwi or about the colours in the lyrics aligning with the Aboriginal flag in the Indigenous Australian song Yil Lull.
None of these girls are professional musicians and that’s what makes this group really special. Their song comes from an undeniable place of passion. Catch them at Wine, Women and Song later in the year or pick up a CD from Hickinbotham Winery in Dromana to enjoy.