June 22, 2017


Presented by Jessie Lloyd, Mission Songs Project is performed as a vocal quartet with singers Deline Briscoe, Emma Donovan and Jessica Hitchcock.

Searching for the secular songs that were sung after church, Jessie Lloyd explores the day to day life on the missions, settlements and reserves through music. From cultural identity to love and loss, these rare songs consist of almost forgotten stories that can now shed light into the history of our Indigenous elders, families and communities.

‘…profoundly moving…the entire collection is sublime…’ – Stephen Fitzpatrick, The Australian

The Voices:

L-R: Emma Donovan, Jessie Lloyd, Deline Briscoe and Jessica Hitchcock

‘Lloyd’s project preserves a history…’ – Chris Lambie, The Age & Sydney Morning Herald


Mission Songs Project – 7:30 Report, ABC TV

Coming out of Jessie Lloyd’s Mission Songs Project, the work ‘MSP – 1957 Palm Island Strike’ explores another important story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander modern history hitherto unknown to the general population. A fight for basic rights, fair pay and fair conditions, the events surrounding the 1957 strike on Palm Island provide another example of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s incredible resilience in the face of a system that treated them as second class citizens.

Banned from practicing their own cultural traditions, it also provides an insight into the way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people adapted modern western music traditions and instruments for their own continued use to connect, tell and share their stories.

Told through the lens of Jessie’s family’s involvement, (her Grandfather Albie Geia led the strike) ‘MSP – 1957 Palm Island Strike’ takes the audience on a journey through songs and stories preceding, during and after the events of the 1957 strike including her father Joe Geia singing his song Uncle Willy written about one of the other strike leaders Uncle Willy Thaiday and her grandfather Albie’s song Own Native Land.

MSP – 1957 Palm Island Strike was developed during a two week residency at C-A-C in April 2017 (including a packed preview performance at C-A-C) before being presented in Melbourne’s Town Hall as part of the Yirramboi Festival on Sunday May 7. The performers receiving a standing ovation from the 900 strong audience.

MSP: 1957 Palm Island Strike – Full band performance with choir

Performance Reviews:

National Folk Festival, April 2017 Rhythms magazine: “Stand-out artists of the Festival included National Folk Fellow Jessie Lloyd for her Mission Songs Project who, with a line-up of top Indigenous artists, presented a rare collection of early Australian Indigenous contemporary songs that were performed on missions and settlements. All Jessie’s shows were packed out.

Port Fairy Folk Festival, March 2017 Chris Lambie, Rhythms magazine: “Daughter of Joe Geia, Jessie Lloyd, travelled the nation to talk with elders for The Mission Songs Project. ‘The Songs Back Home’ is a collection of Indigenous folk songs performed on Christian missions, settlements and native camps from 1900-1999. Not a moment too soon, Lloyd has revived these unique songlines before they’re lost forever. The warm and articulate performer shared the lead on family yarns and glorious harmonies with Emma Donovan, Deline Briscoe and Jessica Hitchcock.”

Blue Mountains Music Festival, March 2017 Elizabeth Walton, Timber & Steel: “The Mission Songs Project brings new life to the voices of the stolen generation and indigenous Australians who were splintered from their cultures when they were made to sing in a foreign language. Today, traditional languages are so far removed from their vernacular that singing in English has become the mainstay, the local languages have become the foreign tongue. Yet everything has its resurgence if you can claim it before it achieves vanishing point. The stories are heartfelt and beautifully sung – perhaps not with the campfire instruments of their natural settings, but the end result is one that adapts well to the contemporary stage and travels to a diverse and broad audience – for The Mission Songs Project, this is mission accomplished, and accomplished incredibly well.”

The Album:

The Songs Back Home – CD reviews

“…a significant release both as a cultural artifact but also for its pure enjoyment factor… full of love and life and hope, sung with great emotion at a level rare in many contemporary albums… As a listener you feel part of the circle and included in the experience. The songs take you through a range of emotions—sadness but also overwhelming joy, compassion, love and many others.”—Steve Britt, Rhythms magazine, May/June 2017

“… a great addition to recordings of genuine Australian folk music… a triumph for Jessie Lloyd.”—Tony Smith, Trad & Now magazine, May 2017

“Islander rhythms, campfire country and defiant humour celebrate simple joys. Melancholy ballads chart a journey of blood, sweat and tears… you’ll almost hear the kettle boil as a closing home recording of the elders invites us to sit down with these unsung survivors.”—4.5 stars, Chris Lambie, Fairfax (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times) (read the full review)

“This album defies categorisation in an exciting and innovative way. This contrasting material, with its mix of optimism, happiness, humour alongside sorrow and hardship, characterises the main artist Jessie Lloyd’s wish to promote conciliation through music.”—Ethnomusicologist, Dr Muriel E. Swijghuisen Reigersberg, Loud Mouth (The Music Trust) (read the full review)

“…profoundly moving… the entire collection is sublime.”—4.5 stars, Stephen Fitzpatrick, The Australian (read the full review)


Media interviews:

The Songs: