How the Baraya Wakulda Choir came about

Worimi elder, Janice Paulson is looking forward to sharing the Baraya Wakulda Choir with the community.
Worimi elder, Janice Paulson is looking forward to sharing the Baraya Wakulda Choir with the community.

The stage has been set, the voices tuned, and the women of the Baraya Wakulda Choir are just waiting to showcase their singing talents to the 'world'.

Not entirely true.

At their first outing the women were 'called back' for an encore after they sang two songs during the traditional Blessing of the Bubs ceremony at Tobwabba recently.

"We were pleasantly surprised," co-founder Janice Paulson said.

Baraya Wakulda, which means singing together in Gathang the language of Janice's people Woromi, was formed just two months ago.

The idea of a Koori choir in the Great Lakes was borne out of the Big Sing in the Desert, near Alice Springs, which was followed by the Big Sing by the Sea, Forster.

And, at the same time Janice has had a long time desire to form a choir of Koori people.

"Singing brings people together," she said.

"I am a musical person: I like to whistle; I like music."

Music has played a big part in Janice's life - it certainly flows in her blood.

Singing brings people together.

Janice Paulson

Her childhood was filled with music and musical instruments; her gifted dad played many instruments - the guitar, the ukulele and the piano accordion - while her mum loved to sing.

"We'd sit around the fire and sing and play, and parties were always full of music."

Janice believes Koori people have a natural connection with music and song through hundreds of years of corroboree, the didjeridoo and dance.

Up to 12 women aged in their 30s to 80s meet weekly for practice under the direction of music teacher and choir leader, Sandra Kwa.

Sandra, who is a co-conductor of the popular Wingsong community acappella choir, travels from Wingham to lead the women who meet three times a month for practice at the Forster Local Aboriginal Land Council building.

The Baraya Wakulda Choir singing 'Heads, shoulders, knees and toes' in Gathang.

The choir's repertoire of songs is varied and selected to suit all ages, from pop folk to old time favourites.

The choir of both Indigenous and non-indigenous women is now keen to attract male singers to their ranks.

And, Janice is pretty chuffed the group can sing in harmony, and is looking forward to showcasing their talents to the community.

In the meantime Janice and her group is looking forward to the next Big Sing by the Sea event, which will be held in late September.

Once again Sing Sing in the Desert founder, Rachel Hore will lead the weekend of singing, culture and displays.

The two day program will culminate with an afternoon concert on Sunday, September 29.