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Emma Donovan with special guest Radical Son

20 October 2023

Bringing her celebrated fusion of classic soul, roots and Indigenous songcraft to the Joan Sutherland Theatre, ARIA-nominated icon Emma Donovan makes her headlining debut at the Sydney Opera House.

An ambitious depth of feeling, both lyrically and musically.

The Monthly

A First Nations music icon makes her Opera House headline debut

Fresh from her electrifying performance in ARETHA, Australia’s very own soul and roots icon Emma Donovan returns with an all-new band to the Sydney Opera House, premiering her forthcoming, country-flavoured sound in her headline debut show at the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

The celebrated Indigenous singer and songwriter has been sharing her stories and songs for more than 20 years, fusing the power of classic American R&B, soul and country with the unique cultural perspective of her Noongar and Gumbaynggirr ancestry. Along the way, she has collaborated with the legendary likes of Paul Kelly, Christine Anu, Yothu Yindi, Uncle Archie Roach, Aunty Ruby Hunter, and many more.

Donovan is best known for her work in the Black Arm Band, a project dedicated to iconic songs of the Aboriginal resistance movement, and as the lead singer for Melbourne rhythm combo The Putbacks, a collaboration that drew upon their shared love of American soul and the protest songs of Indigenous Australia. Driven by Donovan’s powerful voice and richly layered storytelling, The Putbacks won consecutive AIR Awards for Best Soul/R&B album for 2021’s Crossover and last year’s irresistibly funky Under These Streets, while both received nominations for ARIA awards and the prestigious Australian Music Prize. She’s currently at work on a forthcoming country album, due for release next year.

NSW Government

This program is proudly supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW Blockbusters Funding initiative

Radical Son

From the Kamilaroi nation of Australia and the South Pacific nation of Tonga, Radical Son is a strong man with a stronger stage presence and a mesmerising voice that at once seduces the soul and hits the heart. 

Radical Son has recently shared his soul-shaking new single, 'Elder', offering a deeply powerful statement of devotion to country, his Kamilaroi and Tongan cultures and his iron-willed intention to endure that sets neck hairs on end.

Radical Son is part of the long story. “I wish to be an elder, an old man on this land,” he sings in a voice so immense it seems to emanate from the rock beneath his feet.

Elder is the first taste of Biliyambil (The Learning), the highly anticipated second album by Radical Son, aka David Leha – which will also feature David Bridie, Emma Donovan and Jida Gulpilil, set for release on David Bridie’s Wantok label in September. 'Elder' is the keynote to the album’s themes of hard-won survival, belonging and acquiring wisdom from life experience. It’s a song sung from mountaintops, loaded with a storied past and fully facing the future.

Radical Son's first album, Cause 'N Affect, enjoyed high rotation on Australian national broadcast radio ABC Triple J and Double J and was nominated for both Best Music Video (Human Behaviour) and Best Cover Art (Cause ‘N Affect) at the National Indigenous Music Awards, for which they won the award for best cover art. 

With his huge, soulful voice and compelling presence, Radical Son has stunned audiences at festivals and shows around the country, including Byron Bluesfest, Vivid Sydney, Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl and Port Fairy Folk Festival.

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