‘I spent too much time being angry. I spent a good couple of years being really, really angry at someone that showed no remorse, never apologised, never even looked at me. But karma gets you at the end of the day. It is what it is. He’s living his life and I’m living mine. I try not to think about it.
‘My biggest challenge is removing the stigma that people in chairs just stay at home and do nothing. Also being socially accepted and being able to access all gig venues and general locations independently. Not have to plan whether I can go and see a band or meet up with friends at a café that I can’t get into.
‘Life’s too short. I don’t have time for negativity. Don’t worry about the small things. I just want to live. Stay true to yourself. Just love who you are and love life.’
‘I’ve got to say I’ve been very fortunate with a lot of the kids I’ve had over the years. They’ve said to me, “Miss, you’ve always just been there. In our broken English, in our horrible writing, you’ve just been there. You’re stable. You’re with us. You listen to all our sob stories and all our successes.”
‘Even if it’s minor, I’m there; with them. I think they just need that one person that brings them stability at school – that one person they can go to. Someone who is willing to listen. That makes a difference to somebody’s life.
‘We run a homework centre at school that started for ESL kids only then opened up to everyone. We advocated to get more assistance because there was such a need. The kids just know you’re there. They know you’re going to listen.’
‘If you’re not there, they’ll hunt you down and drag you there! We are hunted!’
‘The big change for me was that I lost my dad. It was over two years ago. He was a doctor and he’d been in the same community for over 30 years. He did quite well for himself and he had a lot of stuff and all the things that come with that.
‘But when it was all said and done, the thing that made the biggest impact on me was they had a big memorial for him and they had the biggest hall in our small suburb in Newcastle. I turned up and there were just crowds of people in the streets out the front who couldn’t fit inside.
‘I realised that that’s the only thing you’ve got is the impact you’ve had on other people’s lives. It’s not about all the money that you earned and all those successes and that was just a huge change for me. From that day, I went down this path.
‘Looking at what I’m seeing today shows to me that there is definitely the interest out there for people to be able to come together for many different reasons to express themselves. I just like to bring a little bit of happiness to people’s lives in some way, help the community and be part of it. I hope that then creates a domino effect of people helping each other. Something I’ve always lived by is to be the change in the world you want to see.’
These two were grooving away at the South King Block Party today. This little guy wanted me to take his photo and then asked to look at the shots I’d taken on the back of the camera. When I showed him a few, he said, ‘No, show me the ones with my moves.’
‘I play the Oud. It’s a Middle Eastern lute. There’s a new album out on ABC called “Permission to Evaporate” which is a recent one I did in New York with two great jazz players. One is Mike Stern who was in Miles Davis’ band and Christian McBride – the biggest double bass player at the moment on the jazz scene in the world actually. So I was very lucky to get the chance to record with them.’
If you could describe the Oud as a human, how would you describe it?
‘It’s pretty much like me – short necked, half pear shaped. It’s perfect. I’m exactly like the instrument!
‘I’m playing next Thursday (26th) at Camelot Lounge Marrickville in a repertoire called Angel. We only play that repertoire twice a year to commemorate my parents’ passing. It’s nice to commemorate them through music. This one is to commemorate my mother’s passing two years ago.
‘She was quite sick towards the end. I think there were quite beautiful moments within the short space of time you spend with them in the end. It doesn’t get easy not having your parents around. I think it really gives you fuel for your music. It helps you as a human being and helps you grow. We’re constantly healing and that’s the beautiful thing about music. I guess you’ve just got to take these things as a lesson and grow from them.’