A global village will be created on March 23 as the community connects through song, story, dance, food, traditional games, activities and customs in the spectacular Sunshine Coast Voices of Harmony event.
For singer, songwriter and producer Andrea Kirwin, it’s an opportunity for her to connect with dozens of creatives from across the region to showcase and celebrate their cultural heritage with the wider community.
The Nambour artist has an Australian mother and Fijian father and has been an active participant in Harmony Day events for several years, running workshops for Tewantin State School students to help them write a song about harmony that they then perform for their parents.
This year, the prolific performer will take to Sunshine Coast Council’s Voices of Harmony stage with her signature earthy blend of folk, funk, roots, reggae and soul-infused songs from the heart.
With fundraising for her next studio album already underway, Ms Kirwin will be sharing her favourite originals as well as giving the audience a sneak peek at some of her newest works.
“My music is not strictly Fijian, but I do often perform at events run by friends of mine in the Fijian community and I have performed some songs in language in a few shows last year with Fiji Tourism on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane,” she says.
“My sister lives in Fiji and I have received invitations to play in Fiji and New Caledonia; it is something that is definitely on the horizon. I love to support the Fijian community through events, and I am happy to be part of [Voices of Harmony].
“I also love supporting all artists. We all have unique blood lines we are sharing – English, Irish, Pacific Island heritage, Asian… it makes us such a vibrant community. For that reason, one of my favourite gigs to play is citizenship ceremonies. I’ve done a few of them for council.”
The event will feature a Welcome to Country, a special performance by Sam Okoth with a fusion of traditional African and modern Afro grooves, as well as community choir singalongs with Sing Australia, Hot Ginger Chorus, Inspirational Choir and Cool Harmonies.
There will also be cultural dance performances and music from Indonesia, PNG, Fiji, Persia, New Zealand, Tonga, India and the opportunity to join in workshops to learn traditional dance and songs from different cultures as well as play traditional games, hear stories and discover customs.
You can also feast on an array of multicultural cuisines, wear traditional outfits and join in the Global Fashion Parade.
The message of Harmony Day is ‘everyone belongs’ and the aim is to bring people together to celebrate the Coast community, respect cultural and religious diversity and foster a sense of belonging for everyone, a concept that will be captured in the University of the Sunshine Coast School of Music’s Harmony Day Anthem, which is being created for the event.
USC Bachelor of Creative Industries student Melinda J Wells says 12 music students will collaborate on the piece, which will be performed live and will be recorded for the council to use at future events.
“I strongly believe in connecting people through music and writing songs about important themes such as this means the message is well-received through the medium of music,” she says. “I have participated in lots of Harmony Day events in the past and run reconciliation choirs and worked with all different demographics of people, and music truly is a way to connect, heal and inspire the community.”
Sunshine Coast Council in partnership with the Sunshine Coast Multicultural Network Group are inviting the community to join in and wear orange – the colour of social communication and meaningful conversations.
“The Sunshine Coast Multicultural Action Plan highlights our region had a diverse and growing multicultural population, with one in every five residents born overseas, representing 156 countries, 45 faiths and 96 languages,” says Mayor Mark Jamieson.
“It also identifies the importance of recognising, respecting and embracing diverse cultures and striving to strengthen the resilience and prosperity of our multicultural Sunshine Coast. Events like Harmony Day enrich understanding and inclusion in our diverse communities.”
Sunshine Coast Voices of Harmony is on March 23 from 10am to 3pm at Cotton Tree Park.