Young star hopes to inspire others to follow their dreams
A YOUNG musician from a small indigenous community in Central Queensland is taking the nation by storm, hoping to educate and inspire others.
Miiesha Young, who grew up in Woorabinda, has been singing for her family and her community since she was eight years old. She said she first started singing in church.
She said her family and friends would always encourage her to keep going and pursue music.
It wasn't until she was 14 years old that she started making music after her nan signed her up for a music program in the community.
"It was there I wrote my first song, and when I was flown to Sydney to perform it at a NAIDOC event, I realised that I should keep going," she said.
"I then just continued to love performing through high school."
In late 2018, Miiesha decided she wanted to really take music seriously and make it her life.
"A friend, who had moved from Woorabinda to New South Wales, asked if I wanted to pursue my music and so I was given the opportunity to go and write and record my songs," she said.
"We then linked up with a producer and then record labels started showing interest. I was lucky, it all happened pretty quickly."
Since breaking out on the Australian music scene, the 20-year-old Pitjantjatjara/Torres Strait Islander woman has made some big achievements, including signing a contract with her first record label, EMI Music Australia.
Her debut singles Drowning and Black Privilege made waves after their release on Triple J Unearthed last year. Triple J Unearthed also named Miiesha as its feature artist in August.
"Signing with EMI was a big step for me," she said.
"Being supported by a major label ensures my music reaches as far and wide as possible.
"I have been able to perform in many places I had never been before, in front of thousands of people with artists I strongly admire including Thelma Plum, Baker Boy, Briggs and Dallas Woods. I have performed at Vanfest, Falls Festival and in 2020 Laneway Festival and many others.
"Despite all this however, I believe my biggest success has been showing Australia that a young black woman from a small Aboriginal community can share her story and be heard, validated and celebrated."
Miiesha said she was passionate about spreading her culture through music.
"It's been really important for me to bring my language and my culture and my story into my music," she said.
"As I started my music journey, I was able to travel with my family to connect with my Pitjantjatjara mob. This was a very important culture experience for me and allowed me to learn language to be able to incorporate in my music."
Despite moving away to pursue her music career, Miiesha said she was still able to maintain a strong connection to her Woorabinda community, travelling home every chance she got.
"I travelled home to perform my songs for my community before any other live performance, and recorded my music video for Drowning, as well as my lyrics video for Black Privilege in my community," she said.
"For my performance, I was able to bring the whole of Woorabinda together for a barbecue to celebrate and thank the community for their ongoing support.
"I have been fortunate enough to have my Woorabinda mob at a number of my performances over the past year.
"I have also been able to have another young Woorabinda woman travel interstate with me as my backup vocalist, as well as a young Woorabinda man to dance on stage with me in Brisbane.
"I have to stay connected to home, it's such a big part of who I am. My family keeps me grounded."
She said she had received a lot of messages from her community over the past year, expressing pride in her achievements and saying her music had helped inspire others to pursue their goals and improve their mental health.
"I have even been told that it has helped some people to live a healthier life by avoiding drugs and alcohol," she said.
"I always strive to be a leader for my community in all that I do.
"Through my music I have decided to speak on issues that affect my people, but that they might not have the platform to be able to speak about it.
"I also try to help educate people on what it means to be an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman today.
"When back home I try to encourage the youth to build their confidence and pursue their dreams, no matter the obstacles. There is an incredible amount of talent in my community, and I am very keen to showcase it as far and wide as possible, opening up more opportunities for my people."
In light of her recent success, Miiesha was nominated for the Kennelly Constructions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Achievement Award in the 2020 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards.
"It's really exciting to be recognised by others for what I'm trying to do with my life," she said.
"I think just to be nominated is deadly, but if I won that would be amazing too."
When talking about what fans could expect from Miiesha this year, she said she had some big things planned.
"I still have another seven songs to release from my upcoming project and am looking to record more music and release another EP this year," she said.
"I am hoping to tour and play as many festivals as possible in 2020.
"Beyond there I am hoping to take my music internationally and connect with people all over the world through a love of music, and the power of stories, helping people understand the experience of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person and the need for understanding, support and change."
Her advice to other young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people looking to pursue their goals was to "surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams, and then work hard and know you are strong enough to overcome whatever difficult stuff comes along".
Judging for the 2020 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards will take place on February 26. Finalists will then be presented, and winners announced at an event on May 8. Category winners will each receive $2000 and a trophy.
One of the category winners will be named the 2020 Queensland Young Achiever of the Year and will receive an additional $2000 and a state trophy.