Meet Jacinta Price, song bird and TV host. Growing up in Alice Springs, Jacinta’s family unofficially adopted the many visitors that came through the region from all corners of the globe - she has brothers and sisters from almost every continent. Musically gifted, this songbird enjoys writing music and performing both locally and nationally. One of the greatest inspirations for her music comes from the beautiful Central Australian landscape.
Setting the score to coup for Indigenous songbirds
Relationships, culture, connection to land, identity and life’s journey are all themes that you will find in Jacinta Price’s music. Aldous Huxley once wrote: “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music”. These words resonate with musicians for whom music is an expression of thoughts unspoken, feelings unexpressed and an instrument for self discovery. For Jacinta, music is not just a matter of what she does but a matter of who she is.
Born in Darwin in the early 1980s to a Warlpiri mother (Bess) from Yuendumu and an Irish/Scottish father (David) from New South Wales, Jacinta came to live in Central Australia when she was three years old. Her parents met when they were both working as teachers in a remote Aboriginal community. Growing up with parents from vastly different backgrounds was at times challenging as the two cultures were mostly in simpatico but at times collided. However, this existence between two worlds gave Jacinta an understanding and appreciation of both cultures, as well as openness to people from different backgrounds. Bess and David had many foreign friends and their circle was a United Nations of Alice Springs.
“My parents were very open to the rest of the world and the thing is - the whole world comes through Alice Springs. My parents would adopt people into our family. People were given skin names so they became kin to us; I have brothers and sisters all around the world”
From an early age, Jacinta connected with her Warlpiri sprituality, which connected her with her culture.
“I grew up understanding my personal dreaming being crocodile because my baby spirit is from the top end where I was conceived. I also inherited rain and fire dreamings from the desert and I feel very connected to the dreaming stories”
Beautiful memories of her childhood include time spent out bush camping, playing in the riverbed, rock climbing, digging for honey ants and hunting goanna. But as Carl Jung once said that even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, for Jacinta her growth came from growing pains. At the age of three, Jacinta lost her 11 year old brother Linawu to leukaemia.
“Even though I was only very young at the time, losing him was one of the hardest things. I had this idea that whenever the clouds moved in front of the sun and reappeared it was him telling me that he was there all the time”
Two years after Linawu’s death, Jacinta and her father almost lost Bess to kidney failure.
“I take my hat off to my mother for going through losing a son – it was incredibly tough for her, then we almost lost her too because she had kidney failure, then had a kidney transplant and was incredibly close to death”
Bess however pulled through and the darkest days of Jacinta’s childhood were over. The following years were about music and children. Having discovered a passion for music and performing at an early age, Jacinta was in several performance groups with friends and family, played the violin and had dreams early on of becoming a concert violinist.
At the age of 17, Jacinta gave birth to her first child Leiland. She went on to have another two sons, all two years apart. Being a young mother had its challenges but it never deterred her away from pursuing her musical ambitions.
“The fact that I was a young mother never stopped me from chasing my dreams, in fact I was pushed more because I had kids – I had to be an example for them”
“With music I just kept at it – it was something I discovered I could not, not do. It was a matter of this is who I am, I have to do it. But it’s taken me awhile to get to this
where I have my album, but it’s been at the right point in my life”. At the right point in her life also means finding musical soul mate and love Colin Lillie, a fellow singer songwriter who is one half of Shadows on Blue.
“I feel strongly that Colin was meant to be involved in this journey and he’s most certainly influenced me – we’re both mad and creative musos, which can sometimes create headaches but we’ve found that we can be comfortable with each other and the music – we live it and breathe it on a daily basis”
Jacinta’s album Dry River was produced by country music industry stalwart Bill Chambers on the CAAMA Music record label and launched late 2013. The album is a personal diary of love lost and gained, self reflection and connection to land and culture. The album’s track ‘Sunshine’ is a dedication to Linawu.
For Jacinta, writing and recording her own music is also just as important as nurturing and supporting other young Indigenous artists. In 2010, she coordinated a music program through Music NT that took in young musically gifted Aboriginal women to give them the training and support network to chase their musical dreams. The program offers the participants performance opportunities, direct artistic, industry and employment benefits as well as being a vehicle for cultural change in Aboriginal remote communities.
“Desert Divas has come along in leaps and bounds and for the first time in Central Australian history we have recorded and released a compilation album of Indigenous women’s music in Central Australia”
Following on from the success of Desert Divas, Music NT launched the program’s sister counterparts, Barkly Divas and Saltwater Divas in the Top End.
Jacinta is also excited about the growth of our live music scene and local talent.
“I am so blown away sometimes by the amount of talent that we have here and the fact that it’s continual and keeps growing”
Jacinta also believes that with technology, Central Australian musicians with big ambitions don’t have to move to the East Coast to make a living out of their passion.
“I think we’ve got far more opportunity because of where we come from – we’re not competing. You can stay here, you don’t have to take off down there and get lost. You can be based here in your home and have your career too”