When Melbourne singer Ajak Kwai performs at the Bowery Theatre later this month – her soulful voice will be familiar to audiences of the SBS hit TV series Sunshine, which aired in 2017.
But for Ajak, singing has been part of her soul for much longer. Ajak came to Australia in 1998, after fleeing civil war in South Sudan – and credits her singing with helping her survive her losses.
“Music has been, really, a good tool for my survival, and it’s played a very big role in my life.
“When I was young, because I didn’t speak very well, it was a way of expressing myself.
“Now I am lucky to use my singing to help bring people together,” Ajak said.
Ajak has a strong connection to Brimbank’s African communities, having worked to build inclusion with African communities and local primary schools in Sunshine.
Ajak returns to Brimbank to perform on Friday 23 March at the Bowery Theatre at STACC, in St Albans, where she has also been running singing workshops.
“The Bowery Theatre is such an uplifting and inspiring place – particularly for young people and communities that might not have access to the arts elsewhere.
“I do believe integration is about inclusion and engaging the community in a productive way.
“Being poor is not just about missing out on material things, it can also mean not having access to the arts and spaces to create – that’s why the Bowery is so beneficial.
“The last time I was at the Bowery I saw many African kids here, involved in activities that they might not otherwise have access to.”
Ajak’s performance will mark Cultural Diversity Week (17-25 March 2018), which celebrates the vibrant sounds, sights, movements and tastes that contribute to Victoria’s rich and evolving diversity.
Brimbank Mayor Cr Margaret Giudice said Cultural Diversity Week was an opportunity to celebrate Brimbank’s wonderful diversity and proud community spirit.
“As one of the most culturally diverse municipalities in Australia we are proud to celebrate diversity in everything we do – 365 days a year.
“We are fortunate to have a diverse, proud and welcoming community, and I look forward to celebrating our unique and shared identities during Cultural Diversity Week.”