About the night before last. The powerful moment at the Her Sound Her Story launch

By Julie Kerr

I travelled down to Melbourne on Wednesday night to witness the launch of the Her Sound Her Story exhibition which celebrates decades of Australian women in music. There are more details about the exhibition in a Music Love news story here. However, I thought it was important to mark the evening with a tribute to the organisers, photographer Michelle Grace Hunder and film maker Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore, who took the time to plan and execute this remarkable display at the Emporium Melbourne.

It would have been no easy or quick task to pull everything together in order to eloquently showcase the diverse and long-lasting talent that exists within the roster of Australian women in music. The exhibition and accompanying documentary,  which will be shown tomorrow from midday, was two years in the planning. 

The room was filled with extraordinary artists. I am afraid I will miss someone if I start listing them, but I think it is a worthwhile exercise to attempt in order to adequately describe the feeling in a room that was electrified by the presence of such incredible artists. Sampa the Great, Julia Stone, the Findlay sisters from the band Stonefield, Nai Palm, Montaigne, Vera Blue, Ecca Vandal, Ella Hooper (who was a warm and celebratory MC) and I'm sure there were more - all wandering around the back-lit installation which illuminated the faces of Missy Higgins, Renee Geyer, Tina Arena, Mojo Juju, Airling, Thelma Plum and so many other faces, including the artists present.

Image: Behind the scenes of Julia Stone's portrait, via the AU Review, and the portrait of Julia Stone taken by Michelle Grace Hunder and on display at the Melbourne Emporium until 24 November. 

After strolling around the wonderfully captured portraits, of which I must have circled about a dozen times, there were some warm words from the equally extraordinary Michelle and Claudia - a woman next to me Skyped in Claudia's mother, beaming the entire time - and then Ella Hooper introduced Nai Palm to the stage. And this is when the magic came. Firstly, wow. What an incredible artist. Nai Palm is a member of Grammy-award nominated RnB band Haitus Koyote, who could name drop The Roots and Prince if she wanted to. But that aside, watching Nai Palm perform in a commercial shopping centre, soulfully playing her electric guitar and singing vocal runs with the precision of Whitney Houston with the tone of an angel was a moment I won't forget. But secondly, as incredible as the relaxed, professional and spell-bounding performance was, I looked around at the faces of the artists in the mall, who were entirely captivated by her music. The 20 minute set brought the exhibition to life. Australian women, all musical artists, celebrating one another, learning from one another, and better together. 

Vera Blue and Montaige stand in front of their portraits. Image via Vera Blue's Facebook page. Top image by Oli Sansom

Vera Blue and Montaige stand in front of their portraits. Image via Vera Blue's Facebook page.

Top image by Oli Sansom

Good luck to all the artists (Julia Stone, Ella Hooper, Mama Kin, Montaigne, Mojo Juju, Vera Blue, Ecca Vandal, Elizabeth Rose, Airling and Nyne) opening Melbourne Music Week with an all female- concert including house band with a performance at the State Library tonight (tickets sold out weeks ago).

Her Sound, Her Story will be on display at Emporium Melbourne (Ground Floor, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000) from 10 – 24 November, with the documentary playing tomorrow from 12-6pm. For more information including opening hours, check out www.hersoundherstory.com