AUSSIE hip-hop sensation Nate Weatherall landed in Moree on Tuesday to lead music workshops and help raise the next generation of hip-hop greats.
The visit at the Multi-Purpose Centre coincides with the third day of Youth Week celebrations, a nation-wide, week-long celebration to acknowledge young people and their contributions to Australia. The joint initiative of Miyay Birray, Moree Plains Shire Council, Moree Family Support and Beyond Empathy lead to a day packed with arts and crafts projects and a rap workshop.
“When it comes to the holiday periods, local organisations make an effort to work together to keep kids entertained,” Moree Family Support’s Crystal Trotter said.
MPSC’s assistant community projects officer Jacqui Moore added, “Music is an escape for many of these kids. It has the power to calm them, when they might otherwise land themselves in trouble.”
The organisers expected to pull in around 60 children to the centre, with Nate Weatherall a major drawcard for the crowd.
Nate first turned to hip-hop when he was 18, finding the genre to be a powerful tool of expression.
“Music allows you to speak your mind and connect with people,” he said. “It has been part of our culture for thousands of years, a way of mixing dance and storytelling.”
Nate is of the Gumbaynggirr tribe of NSW, saying his family exposed him to music from a young age.
“I was fortunate because I was exposed to music. My grandparents toured around Australia playing music and I would always travel to Tamworth as a kid to sing at talent competitions.”
Armed with nothing more than a few mics, a Macbook Pro laptop and audio amplifier, Nate has all the equipment he needs to carry on the cultural practice and add melodic rhythm to his own life experiences.
Growing up in the missions at Armidale, Nate said he was exposed to a world of racism, violence and drug-abuse.
“I was 10 years old, using a crossing in front of a restaurant, when a council worker pulled me aside and said I wasn’t allowed to use it because I was black. If I haven’t experience it all, I’ve seen people around me experience those other terrible things,” he said.
Add stories of police brutality against family members and Nate has every excuse to be angry at the world if he ever so chose to be, but he has used his past to build a brighter future.
“I try to push a positive message, even though I try to expose the harsh realities. When you’re dealing with the struggles of living in poverty, you have to remain cool headed. I see some kids at Moree are going through the same routine I went through when I was growing up. Even though Armidale is a few hours away, a lot of the problems are the same. You cross the bridge over the river, and you see the divide in town,” he said.
He credits his father as the source of his strength, who instilled a passion to help others.
“He’s the one who always told me to keep trying no matter how many times you get knocked down.”
I want to be some kind of role model, some kind of figure to show there’s no limitation. If I was limited, I wouldn’t be running music workshops today. I wouldn’t be where I am, I would be a completely different person.
It’s an integrity and resilience Nate hopes to pass down to the next generation.
“I want to be some kind of role model, some kind of figure to show there’s no limitation. If I was limited, I wouldn’t be running music workshops today. I wouldn’t be where I am, I would be a completely different person.”
He said that while things had changed for the better since he was a child, the change people were looking for rested in their own hands.
“Armidale is a much better, more multicultural place. You see that things get better with time, but also with people who want to see that change. It requires dedication and community strength.”
Nate said he will be collaborating with other artists in the next month or so, and hopes to bring some local talent on-board.
“I’ll be setting up a studio at the Salvos and getting some people from Moree to help make an EP. I’ll then upload it to Triple J Unearthed.”
The children will perform their songs from the music workshop at the Multi-Purpose Centre tomorrow, in front of a larger crowd and special guest Nathan Hindmarsh.