| BNE November/December 2016
find their voice
eb Suckling (
) was involved in
a number of community music projects –
songwriting with long-term homeless people at
Roma House in Spring Hill and with communities in the
mining rich region of southern Queensland’s Surat Basin
– when she first thought of telling the stories of women
whose partners had served in conflict.
“It’s something you rarely hear about and songwriting
is an excellent platform to help people tell their personal
stories. The Anzac story is such a part of the fabric of
our country and I really wanted to look into the stories
around the women and the families,” she says.
For the next two years Deb and a small band of
Queensland songwriters embarked on an extraordinary
journey across the state to hear those stories from women
whose partners have served in the military for more than
60 years, from WWII to the present day. They travelled
to towns such as Chinchilla and Goomboorian, cities
such as Cairns and Roma, speaking to more than 100
women aged from 25 to 104.
“They all had different backgrounds and experiences
but their stories have similar themes of love, loss, upheaval
through all sorts of deployments through the Pacific, Asia
and the Middle East, of fear for their partners while they
are away and sometimes anger for the way their partners
have been treated when they get home, or suffering
through their partner’s PTSD (and their children’s PTSD
when it is passed on), but also their strength in raising
their children – often on their own,” Deb says.
One song, ‘Daddy is bulletroof’ was written with
two children in Dalby, Jack and Lillee Yewsang, when
they were 8 and 10. Their Dad had served in seven
deployments in the Middle East and was away at the
time the song was written so it talks about how they feel
about him coming home. They later performed the song
in Sydney and their Dad came home from Afghanistan
to hear it.
“The women opened their hearts and bared their souls.
Most of the time we would write with them on the spot,
sitting down over a cup of tea and working together on
lyrics that best suited their story and finding out the
musical styles they liked. It was a very emotional process.
There have been lots of tears, laughs, hugs and long-term
relationships have been built.”
Deb and her collaborators wanted to share the stories
to raise awareness and understanding of the commitment
and sacrifices of the soldier’s wives and their families and
they received assistance from the Anzac Centenary Arts
and Culture Fund so they could record the songs and
eventually tour regional areas of Queensland to perform
them. They have also performed in Sydney and Canberra
and now there are plans to extend the project interstate
and tour nationally. In the meantime their first album
The Soldier’s Wife
is available on iTunes.
Deb Suckling and her band of songwriters Roz
Pappalardo, Jackie Marshall, Emma Bosworth, Lydia
Fairhall, Kristy Apps and Melinda J. Wells come together
again to perform the songs from The Soldier’s Wife
project on Remembrance Day and it’s perhaps fitting that
on 11 November we, too, pause to hear their stories.
The Soldier’s Wife
, Old Museum, Bowen Hills, 11
November. Tickets $33.50. Seewww.oldmuseum.org
WOMEN IN FOCUS
on festival screen
From the boisterous, wildly colourful and loud Indian film
to the slow-burn tension of
, a thriller from French director
Olivier Assayas and starring Kristen Stewart, women are at the heart of some
of the best films in this year’s selection for the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film
Festival (BAPFF). Another is the documentary
, by Brisbane-based film-
maker Douglas Watkin who charts the journey of Dubbo-born ballerina
Ella Havelka as she becomes the first Indigenous dancer to be invited to join
the Australian Ballet Company. This is just a smidgin of the diversity in the
program of more than 80 feature films, documentaries, shorts and cinema
classics which includes many award-winners on the international film festival
circuit. A restored copy of 1970s Australian classic
, adapted from
the Colin Thiele novel, will also be screened.
BAPFF, from 23 November to 4 December 2016, various locations.