At the end of last year, and in conjunction with The Australia Council for the Arts, The Cat Empire announced their inform intention to award a new International Touring Grant to an Australian/NZ contemporary artist in 2019. The announcement was met with unprecedented interest and a surge of applications, from first time applicants.
Convening in late April to consider the amazing acts that had been Shortlisted for their consideration by the Australia Council, the members of The Cat Empire ultimately agreed that the recipient of their grant funding would be composer, performer and cultural practitioner of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music Jessie Lloyd, who will take her amazing Mission Songs Project to Mexico next month.
Presented by Lloyd, Mission Songs Project is performed as a quartet with a range of Indigenous performers from around Australia. Searching for the secular songs that were sung after church, Jessie explores the day to day life on the missions, settlements and reserves through music. From cultural identity to love and loss, these rare songs consist of almost forgotten stories that can now shed light into the history of our Indigenous elders, families and communities.
Jessie Lloyd’s Missions Songs Project was selected from the pool of applicants who applied for funding in the Australia Council February 2019 grant round. A select number of musicians deemed eligible for funding through the Australia Council’s peer assessment process were shortlisted and handpicked by band members to receive The Cat Empire’s backing, which comes with the added opportunity to receive priceless mentoring on the ways to navigate the international touring market and turn it into the cornerstone of a sustained musical career.
As one of Australia’s highest ticket selling acts internationally, and renowned the world over for inspired live performances at some of the world’s most iconic venues, The Cat Empire recognise that for Australian acts to have enduring careers they must first find sustainable ways to tour internationally.
This grant collaboration with both its financial and mentoring support is the band’s way of giving back to the industry that has provided them a successful career, and helps ensure that quality Australian acts continue to blaze a path on the world stage and shine a spotlight on the incredible diverse talent being fostered in Australia.
“We were honestly humbled by the number of impressive artists who responded to this opportunity,” shared The Cat Empire trumpeter and co-vocalist Harry Angus. “There was lots amazing music to listen to, and of course some heated discussion as to who each member thought the winner should be, but ultimately we are satisfied that Jessie Lloyd is definitely ready to take that next big step to take her very unique Australian music across the globe. It has been such an inspiring and rewarding project to be involved in.”
Paul Mason from the Arts Council of Australia adds, “The Australia Council has always been proud that we funded the Cat Empire on one of their early international tours, and for the band to now be reinvesting in other artists is an act of real leadership. Jessie Lloyd’s application stood out in a very competitive round against our selection criteria of artistic merit, good planning and in the case of this collaboration with The Cat Empire, international impact”.
For fans of The Cat Empire, the band will shortly announce a run of Australian tour dates for Oct/Nov 2019.