Christine Anu: By Far Better Than A Master of None

Column: Features   |   Date Published: Sunday, 14 May 17   |   Author: Joshua Martin   |   2 weeks, 2 days ago

     "When it comes to your culture there is a fine line between exploiting and celebrating."

CHRISTINE ANU won’t say she blew open the doors for Australian performers like Jessica Mauboy; modestly claiming she merely “left the window half open so they can crawl through.”

Much of Australia however knows Anu is one of our most prolific entertainers, skyrocketing to prominence with her adapted cover of Warumpi Band’s ‘My Island Home’ in the mid 1990s, before trying her hand at Hollywood feature film and most recently ABC radio.

Being a multi-threat entertainer is becoming increasingly commonplace nowadays, à la Mauboy, begging the question of whether it’s no longer a handy skill but a necessity to survive. “I’ve gone throughout my career thinking at times that maybe I should have just concentrated on one thing,” Anu laughs. “I don’t believe I’m taken very seriously as a musician because of the different things that I’ve done over the years…” Arguably Anu has thrived consistently, attaining her most sustained success as a musical talent: accruing seventeen ARIA nods at a rate of knots.

Anu isn’t altogether comfortable with the entire package of success however. “No one has ever asked me whether I was afraid of the success. Absolutely I was. You fear what you can’t see.” Up on the world stage of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, the extent of what it means to be a world contending artist became very plain. “I don’t like being recognised on the street. I like being appreciated for what I can do with my talent, but I don’t like the other kind of attention.”

Anu doesn’t reject contemporary talent shows as a means of finding success, instead pitying the struggling artists plight. “No one is going to care about the psychological impact on those men and women who get left behind when the show is done.” It’s an entertainment paradox; entertainers bemoaning being used for entertainment, and one that Anu is glad she bypassed.

But what continues to drive Anu’s own career, long after solidifying her legend status?

“Putting an original language album out there is definitely a dream … That’s before my mum passes away, because I’d really like for her to be involved and to help write the songs.” Early in her career, Anu released her first Indigenous language song ‘Kulba Yaday’, but suffered a learning curve: “There was a little bit of a protest about how and if I got permission to include language stuff on the album … When it comes to your culture there is a fine line between exploiting and celebrating.” Anu is confident that within the artistic space her illustrious career allows her to occupy, she can meaningfully achieve that dream.

Throughout our conversation, Anu has a lively spark that is evidently crucial to her longevity and a passionate approach to art of all kinds.

See Christine Anu in conversation discussing her life at the Arc cinema, National Film and Sound Archive. Friday June 2 at 7:15pm. Tickets $35 + bf through TryBooking.



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