MusicReview

Bold and beautiful – Artist Profile: Ngaiire

Ngaiire is an empowering, inspirational artist. Her name (pronounced Ny-rie) is a Maori name meaning “red flower”. Like this image, Ngaiire is bold, passionate and beautiful.

Ngariie (Image: supplied)

Ngariie (Image: supplied)

Born in Lae Morobe Province in Papua New Guinea and now living in Sydney, Ngaiire is a truly creative spirit who can delight, entertain, confront and challenge. She combines her highly polished performances with raw and earthy emotion.

Her creative talent is exemplified in the lead song “Dirty Hercules” from her debut album Lamentations. Listening to “Dirty Hercules” (featuring Nai Palm) is a musical treat. With her soulful, delightful voice, Ngaiire sings from her heart, expressing her whole self. Such an openness has not come automatically. This ability has been developed by Ngaiire. In her younger years she was the black sheep, keeping emotions bottled inside herself, unlike the rest of her family who wore hearts on their sleeves.

Ngaiire always knew she wanted to sing and perform, but at first others didn’t know this as she only sang on her own behind the closed bedroom door. Her determination and ambition led her to take risks. Now she not only accepts challenges but looks for them.

The semi-naked dancing in the “Dirty Hercules” film clip shows how far Ngaiire has come. The work depicts Ngaiire and dancer Gemma Dawkins tussling and binding each other with a long, heavy rope. One of them will break free of the binding. Ngaiire says “This clip is not supposed to be sexy. I wanted it to represent the struggle between two women and the covetous aspect of human nature especially in regards to women and the need to be skinnier, taller, fitter, better, more successful …”

“Dirty Hercules” has the capacity to challenge our beliefs about ourselves and provoke questions. What are the restrictions from expectations imposed by society as to what is beautiful and how we might think about our bodies? How are we relating to those around us?

Ngaiire has been empowered through self-acceptance. Her way of facing challenges in her life and her willingness to be honest, open and vulnerable are inspiring. It is no surprise then that her latest gig, launching her newest single, “Around”, at 505 in Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, was sold out. This song also has a complexity and deeper meaning arising from Ngaiire’s reflections on human relationships and the world around her. Her insights show a wise mind. Though young in years she has already experienced and survived many difficulties.

At the tender age of 3, Ngaiire was diagnosed with stomach cancer and spent the next four years in and out of hospital. One of the well-known side effects of treatment is loss of hair and this made her a target for bullying. While Ngaiire carries the physical scar of this illness she responds with gratitude for circumstances that enabled her to have treatment, and she has an acute appreciation for the value of life.

Another circumstance for which Ngaiire is grateful is the move she made when 16 years of age from PNG to Lismore. It was here that her musical world expanded. Until this move Ngaiire was immersed only in reggae. In her new environment she was exposed to blue-grass, folk, classical and all kinds of music. She loved everything she heard. No wonder she now has an eclectic style. One day Ngaiire hopes to introduce her own music education program in PNG that will give children more opportunities to develop their musical talents and help them to simply enjoy the gifts that different styles of music bring.

Ngaiire is motivated to work hard. Her mother Miriam and grandmother Kiagi are themselves inspiring women who have nurtured Ngaiire and have helped her to pursue her dreams and ambitions and to value building relationships.

If you are travelling you might hear Ngaiire inflight. “Dirty Hercules” has been programmed for both Jetstar and PNG’s Air Niugini inflight entertainment. Royal Brunei Airlines have “Around” on their Beat Program. Both songs are from Lamentations, produced by Tim Curnick. Selected tracks were produced in collaboration with Aaron Choulai (pianist) who also co-wrote some of the songs with Ngaiire. Chris Townend and Tim Curnick (bass) mixed the album.

In the coming months Ngaiire will be travelling to Iceland where she hopes to be open to a stream of consciousness and write songs for the next album.

From the lush and fertile rainforests of Papua New Guinea to the sparse fields, mountains and glaciers of Iceland, wherever she is, Ngaiire carries within herself a spirit that blossoms, making the world a better place.

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