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Sounds of Christmas from Asia Pacific: Sydney’s first multilingual and intercultural Christmas song album

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The Sounds of Christmas from Asia Pacific project is a multilingual and intercultural Christmas song project, showcasing the diverse and creative multicultural and multilingual communities in Sydney. Supported by the City of Sydney’s Matching Grant program, this groundbreaking community music album project features eight Sydney-based vocalists, Kiarateuila Lattimore, Peter Lazaro, Jinky Marsh, Kumi Matsuda, Loma Schaaf,  Radhika Sukumar-White, Ruci Tuiwai and Cynthia Su. The project is also supported by a multicultural team of producers, Kevin Bathman and Benjamin Oh, musicians, Jeremy Koay and Grace Song, audio engineer, Karna K. and illustrator, Freda Chiu. Significantly, this album project has been produced and recorded during the lockdown in Sydney. 

Filipino-Australian Jinky Marsh is covering ‘What Child Is This?’ in Filipino. As a NAATI Translator for Tagalog, she translated the track to the tune of the traditional English melody. The title of this track is ‘Anong Bata Ito?’.

Jinky Marsh

Jinky is a writer for The Philippine Times and community radio presenter of TripleH 100.1FM Generation HOPE and also a voice artist for Filipino audio projects, Spanish telenovelas and faith-based musicals. She was one of the artists featured on the Heroes of the World Album by Gadista Music. Jinky has performed as an opening act for various concerts of renowned Filipino artists including Lea Salonga and Pilita Corales. She played the lead role of Kim in Miss Saigon in Rockdale Musical Society’s 70th Anniversary. Jinky has also graced a number of cultural gatherings and international rugby test matches by singing the Philippine and Australian National Anthems.

According to the 2016 ABS Census, up to 48% of City of Sydney residents identified as having culturally diverse ancestry. With the census revealing a fast-changing, culturally diverse nation, it is imperative that steps are taken to practise more inclusivity to acknowledge the increasing variety in terms of country of birth, languages spoken, whether people are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, and religious affiliation (or secular beliefs). The 2016 Census shows that nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians had either been born overseas (first generation Australian) or one or both parents had been born overseas (second generation Australian). Additionally, there were over 300 separately identified languages spoken in Australian homes. After English, the next most common languages spoken at home were Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, and Vietnamese.

The project was developed and conceptualised by co-producers, Kevin Bathman and Benjamin Oh. They said, “Christmas is now taken as both a religious as well as a secular end of year celebration, many people take this time as a stretch of the end of year public holidays to relax, reflect, leisure and celebrate with their loved ones and community. For some, Christmas is also a difficult and lonely time, especially for those who are culturally minoritised, those being marginalised for who they are, or separated from their loved ones or community because of their being in this city and country. The Sounds of Christmas from Asia Pacific album hopes to reach out to them, reminding them that diverse Sydneysiders are an inclusive and affirming community that welcomes them. That regardless of who they are, they matter and that our community embraces you. Through these familiar tunes yet different renditions and multi-languages, we hope to bring them a new perspective and sense of hope and homeliness in Sydney.”

“As part of the Christmas celebration, many people look forward to the annual Christmas carols – either on the TV, radio or the door-to-door carollers. We found that most Christmas Carols in Australia are traditionally sung in English. Inspired by Putumayo World Music, a New Orleans-based record label that specializes in world music, we wanted to showcase the diverse communities in Sydney by adding a multicultural and multilingual aspect to these classic songs.”

Radhika Sukumar-White

Radhika Sukumar-White, one of the featured vocalists in the project said, “This project represents diversity, respect and inclusion. When diversity and inclusion have been juxtaposed as a threat to the dominant by some, this music project debunks that myth. The album showcases our shared humanity beyond our race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, country of origin, etc. and we can find ways to connect with one another and affirm each person’s dignity. Our diversity deepens our own humanity, even differences that we may not fully understand, we can appreciate that which is not ours.”
We encourage people to purchase and support the album, 50% of profits raised from the sale of the CD album will go towards seeding funds for the next album; 25% will go to support Mudgin-gal Women’s Place, an Aboriginal Women-led organisation that provides vital services for vulnerable women in the Sydney community; and 25% will go to support The House of Welcome that welcomes shelter and empower people seeking asylum and refugees regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, nationality or religion.”

This album will be available to stream from December 2021.

Join the Zoom launch of “Sounds of Christmas from Asia Pacific” album:
Friday, 26 November 2021; 8pm – 9pm
FREE Registration
here: https://bit.ly/SoundsChristmasAsiaPacificLaunch

Order a CD here.

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