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belle whyte

Belle Whyte: Storyteller

Jessica Schumann

They say if you can discover your passion then living a life you love is easy.

For aspiring indigenous singer/songwriter Belle Whyte, it happened at a young age, singing alongside her dad as he played guitar.

Last Saturday, Belle’s story will air this Saturday 3 October at 7.15pm and 11.45pm on NITV as part of their Unearthed series where she will share the story of her musical success and the journey so far. This is one woman with a big voice, big ambitions, and nothing is getting in her way.

Belle is also performing at Floriade this coming Friday 2 October at 12pm on Stage 88 as part of the ANU School of Music partnership with the festival. Jessica Schumann caught up with Belle to talk family, friendship and her latest song The Fear.

Jessica: So who is Belle Whyte?

Belle: I’m a descendent of the Murrawarri people of north-western New South Wales but moved to Canberra with my mum and sister when I finished high school. I’m studying to become a secondary music and Aboriginal studies teacher at the ANU School of Music and the University of Canberra.

You clearly have a passion for music, but how has music affected you throughout life?

Mum encouraged me to pursue dance and singing from a young age and throughout my childhood. I became involved in musical theatre in my teens and began writing songs when I was 18. It’s not only been a medium that I have used to creatively express myself, [but] it’s also been a comfort for me. Music has helped me through some of the most difficult periods of my life.

Bell Whyte. Image courtesy of Josie Cosgrove of Dream Pieces

Belle Whyte. Image courtesy of Josie Cosgrove of Dream Pieces

When did you realise that you wanted to be a singer/songwriter?

I knew I wanted to be a singer/songwriter and performer for as long as I can remember. It has been a goal I’ve had my entire life. Although I didn’t spend much time growing up in Murrawarri country, mum ensured I remained connected to my Aboriginal culture and so I grew up learning and understanding a lot about it. A huge part of my culture is storytelling and so I see song writing as a form of that. I see myself as a storyteller. The stories I share through song are based on my experience and my identity.

Your song The Fear will feature on the NITV/SBS series Our Stories, Our Way, Everyday. What’s the significance of this song?

The Fear has an inspirational message about overcoming those obstacles or fears that hold you back from achieving your goals.

Besides its message though, The Fear holds a special significance for you too. Tell me about who you recorded it with…

I used to be in a duet and a couple of bands with a friend of mine, Tyson Jones. We used to write and play music together but have since gone in different directions creatively. Tyson is a very skilled musician based here in Canberra and he graduated from ANU School of Music last year.

The Fear was always one of our favourite songs we wrote together and it was always a goal of ours to record it. So we decided to collaborate once more for the purpose of recording the song.

It was while you playing a gig at the Hippo Bar with Tyson that you also met local indigenous filmmaker, Marissa McDowell, is that right?

Yes, she was the photographer at that event and took some beautiful photos of our performance. We reconnected again when we ended up working together as announcers for an indigenous program on 2XXFM. It was then that Marissa took an interest in my musical pursuits and found my story to be an interesting subject for one of her documentaries.

I wanted to include some of my original music in the documentary and so I recorded The Fear with Tyson especially for it. You’ll see some of the behind scenes footage of the recording session in the documentary too.

So what’s next? Releasing a single? An album?

To be honest, I am still figuring that out as I go along. You do need to have money behind you to pay for recording, mastering and the graphics. I’ve saved up my own money and have fundraised in order to cover these costs. I’ve managed to get The Fear some airtime on radio stations across the country including here in Canberra, and the feedback received has been very positive.

 

Keep up to date with Belle’s next release by jumping across to her Facebook page.

Images courtesy of facebook.com/bellewhytemusic. Photos by Josie Cosgrove of Dream Pieces. 

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Jessica Schumann

A 'rambling ranga' at heart, Jessica Schumann is a bubbly, creative social thinker who thrives on words, social media and an innate knack for sharing stories. When she finds the time to write, Jessica seeks out the beauty in change and the essence of human condition. Varied and diverse in nature, her writing delves into the enviable world of people, travel, food and culture. When you can't find her in a nook writing, just follow your nose and you’ll soon find Jessica indulging in her other passion – cooking – or curled up on the couch with a good book in hand. You can find her over at ramblingranga.com.au. More about the Author

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