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"The beating heart of the contemporary live music scene in Australia"
As one of the premier touring live artists in Australia, Ngaiire (pronounced NYE-ree) is often lauded as the best voice in the country. She has released three albums, the latest which garnered her four ARIA awards (the Australian equivalent to the Grammys). Her songs have also been selected for use across multiple USA TV shows—most notably the gospel torch song, “Fall Into My Arms,” was used in Oprah Winfrey/Ava DuVernay’s TV show Queen Sugar.
A performance from Ngaiire melds electronic neo-soul, gospel, and big pop sounds, strained through the lens of a first nations Papua New Guinean songwriter. Ngaiire’s shows give the audience the full spectrum of live performance: one moment a pop banger will have you dancing, and in the next moment, she will break your heart.
Ngaiire will be performing songs from her award-winning album 3, a visual and musical exploration into the experience of journeying to her ancestral villages in Papua New Guinea. A journey that gave her the whole number expression of 3 that describes the many aspects of the self she inhabits as a woman living between cultures, lands, and cultural expectations.
More About the Artist
Hailing from the Eastern Highlands and New Ireland provinces of Papua New Guinea and now based in Sydney, Australia, Ngaiire has a career that crosses genres and artforms. The recipient of four National Live Music Awards, an fbi Radio SMAC Award for best live act, and the inaugural Australian Women in Music Award for Artistic Excellence, Ngaiire’s albums have been celebrated around the world. She has graced stages from Glastonbury to Splendour in the Grass; gone on national tours alongside the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Alicia Keys, Flume, and Leon Bridges; composed for dance companies; and had her work exhibited in art spaces. With 2020 rendering the live touring circuit dormant, Ngaiire still achieved significant goals. In 2021, she became the first musician to play in front of the National Press Club in Canberra, became the first Papua New Guinean to appear on ABC’s “Play School” (Australia’s “Sesame Street”), the first Papua New Guinean to be painted for the historical Archibald prize, and she had her first ever piece exhibited at the iconic Art Gallery of NSW. In the summer of 2021, Ngaiire released her album 3, which is a visual, cultural, and musical exploration of her hometown in Papua New Guinea.
Ngaiire’s music is rooted in a resurgent Australian neo-soul movement, and she was listed as one of Australia’s leading live R&B/soul performers in 2015 by The AU Review, being described as “the beating heart of the contemporary live music scene in Australia.” She has been compared to the artists, Jeff Buckley, Hiatus Kaiyote, Kimbra, and Angie Stone, and her music both expands and transcends musical boundaries. Her collaborations span multiple genres, including experimental jazz, contemporary synth and electro-pop, Melanesian string bands, roots, blues, and world music, as well as hip hop, rap, and future bass. Ngaiire’s musical style includes pronounced vocals, which are accompanied by layered harmonies and rhythms.
This engagement of Ngaiire is made possible in part through the Performing Arts Global Exchange program of Mid Atlantic Arts with support from the National Endowment for the Arts with assistance from the Australian Government through the Australia Council arts funding and advisory body, and the Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C.
Ngaiire speaking about her studio album, 3:
“So here it is. 3. A perfectly acceptable odd number, just like me – a bit odd. A bit queer….As slow and breezy as a New Islander but also as stubborn and passionate as a Highlander. A bit Australian but also a bit Kiwi. A bit short and a bit not the right kind of black to be commercial enough.”
“I am full to the brim of stories that many don’t have the privilege to hold within themselves; some I know quite well and some live deep in my DNA that I won’t have enough lifetimes to unpack. But the ones I know, I will tell how I want to because I can. So here is a collection of love letters to 3 entities—myself, my country, and those I love both here and now departed.”