First Nations music festival First & Forever announced featuring Baker Boy, Budjerah, Jessica Mauboy, King Stingray and more

Thelma Plum, Sycco, Alice Skye, Tasman Keith, Electric Fields, Barkaa, Ziggy Ramo, JK-47 and many more also appear on the line-up for the inaugural event, which will take place in Victoria next month

New music festival First & Forever will debut in Victoria next month, bringing together a big line-up of First Nations artists from across the country on November 27.

The line-up – curated by rapper and Bad Apples Music president Briggs along with Paul Kelly – features a diverse range of genres. Hip-hop is well represented, with the likes of Baker Boy, Tasman Keith, Ziggy Ramo, Barkaa, Birdz, JK-47 and Kobie Dee on the bill.

Singer-songwriters Jessica Mauboy, Budjerah, Sycco, Thelma Plum, Alice Skye, Christine Anu, Jess Hitchcock and Emma Donovan all feature as well. Also on the line-up are Yolŋu surf rockers King Stingray, guitarist Dan Sultan and blues and roots duo Busby Marou, along with electronic duo Electric Fields, DJ and producer dameeeela, and Kardajala Kirridarra.

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First & Forever will be held in Hanging Rock, Victoria, on the lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples. The local communities have worked with one another and festival organisers to name the location for the event the Gathering Place, a name which “acknowledges the power of Country to build community, communication and an equitable future”. All performances will take place on the Uncle Archie Stage, named to honour the late Uncle Archie Roach, who passed away in July.

The festival, which is being run as part of Victoria’s Always Live initiative, was first conceived between Briggs and late Mushroom Group founder Michael Gudinski. “For years I’d had an idea for a First Nations-led contemporary music festival, something cool and boutique that was really about the music and culture,” Briggs said in a statement.

“When Gudinski called me about a similar idea he’d had, we found this really collaborative working relationship. We both had a passionate approach to Melbourne, Victorian music, and amplifying Blakfellas’ stories. MG got the ball rolling,” the Bad Apples head continued. “After he passed, the ball was in my court. I had to take it home.”

Kelly, who helped curate the event alongside Briggs, agreed to get involved at Gudinski’s request, when the pair had a conversation backstage at one of Roach’s concerts, shortly before Gudinski’s death in March 2021.

“Gudinski was bubbling with ideas for a new project, a big concert with headlining First Nations artists, “Kelly said. “He urged me to get involved. I said no to Michael many times over the years and I said yes lots. I’m glad I said yes this last time.”

Tickets for First & Forever will go on sale next Friday (October 14) at 11am AEDT. A Frontier Touring members pre-sale will kick off a day few days earlier on October 11. Proceeds from ticket sales will be split between the Archie Roach Foundation and Adam Briggs Foundation.

The line-up for First & Forever is:

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Baker Boy
Budjerah
Jess Mauboy
King Stingray
Sycco
Thelma Plum
Alice Skye
Busby Marou
Christine Anu
Dan Sultan
Electric Fields
Emma Donovan
Tasman Keith
Ziggy Ramo
Barkaa
dameeela
Jess Hitchcock
JK-47
Kardajala Kirridarra
Kobie Dee

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