Elsy Wameyo and Birdz to headline New Beginnings 2023, a celebration of refugee, migrant, and First Nations artists

The festival – which celebrates refugee, migrant and First Nations artists – will take place later this month as part of the Sydney Festival program

Kenyan-born artist Elsy Wameyo and Butchulla rapper Birdz will headline this year’s edition of the New Beginnings festival, which will take place as part of the Sydney Festival program later this month.

The festival, which has been run by Settlement Services International (SSI) since 2014, is billed as a “celebration of refugee, migrant, and First Nations artists”. This year’s edition of the free event will be held on January 28, taking place at the wharves of the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour.

In addition to Wameyo and Birdz, this year’s line-up also includes jazz singer-songwriter Athésia – who performs songs in French, Creole and Portuguese – along with Lebanese musician Samira El-Koussa, Assyrian singer George Karam and more. See the full line-up here and register for a free ticket here.


“Community, culture, and belonging are all important themes in my music, and so it feels natural to take part in New Beginnings Festival,” Birdz said in an accompanying statement. “I’m excited to play in an environment that showcases the diversity of this country, where I can represent my community and culture, and share my story as a proud Butchulla man.”

In addition to the artists performing, this year’s edition of New Beginnings will also feature a range of food stalls featuring cuisine from Peru, to Lebanon, to Sierra Leone, along with market stalls from entrepreneurs from First Nations, refugee and migrant backgrounds.

“As one of the most multicultural countries in the world, Australia’s creative industry is home to a melting pot of ideas, cultures, and talents,” said SSI Arts and Culture producer Raphael Brasil. “New Beginnings Festival embodies our diversity by showcasing an eclectic mix of music, dance, art, culture, and food from Australia’s leading culturally and linguistically diverse artists and entrepreneurs.”

Brasil continued: “Since its inception, New Beginnings Festival has showcased over 360 performers and artists from over 80 cultures. Now in its seventh year, the festival continues to grow bigger in size and significance to allow a real opportunity for our First Nations, migrant and refugee communities to be seen, heard and celebrated.”

Last year, Wameyo released her debut EP, ‘Nilotic’. NME declared it one of the 25 best Australian releases of 2022, saying it secured the singer, rapper and producer as “one to watch”.

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