When I discovered the significant historical link that existed between my hometown (Ballarat) and my religion (The Baha’i Faith), I knew it would make for an interesting feature piece.
The story was about Effie Baker – the first Australian Baha’i woman – who was raised right here in Ballarat. I wanted to find out all about her and her background, and the result was the following story which featured in Ballarat Extra at the end of last month.
There are a few musicians that I have on my to-interview list and Sarah Blasko is (was) one of them. As was the case when I interviewed Julia Stone, I was nervous and waiting for the moment when I would go to ask a question and make absolutely NO sense. Lucky for me, she was so lovely and even though there was one point when I did buckle, she was kind enough to overlook it.
Sarah’s latest album I Awake was recorded alongside a full studio orchestra which was something the Australian chanteuse had dreamed of doing for quite a while. I am in love with the record. It’s powerful, mystical and spiritual and I was so glad I was able to speak to Sarah about it. Story here.
Renowned Australian comedian Akmal Saleh came to town this past weekend. When it came time for me to chat to him, I wanted to see what it was that made him tick, and I think I got it. Raised in one of Egypt’s largest Christian churches, Akmal became disillusioned by religion at a young age. Indeed, much of his comedy is influenced by his Arabian heritage and his life growing up as an Egyptian. Akmal told me how he had distanced himself from his faith and his culture for many years, preferring not to adhere to one particular religion. He had witnessed how religion could make people behave (negatively) towards themselves and each other instead of empowering them to show love, compassion and acceptance.
I had a chat to punk/soul/jazz diva Clairy Browne last week in the lead up to her band’s show in Ballarat. I hadn’t listened to Clairy’s music prior to interviewing her, but when I did, it buttered my bread just right. Her music takes you back to the 60s (I’m all about that kind of vintage) but still manages to maintain the contemporary RnB tunes of the 90s. Although it’s very hard to describe Clairy’s music – it’s complex, rich and influenced by an array of artists – one thing is for sure. It’s unique. Definitely music to my ears.
Yesterday, my news director approached me with a story:
“There are two boys standing at the front of Commonwealth Bank with a large sign that says ‘we want a job’. Can you go and see what their story is?”
To be honest, I didn’t think there would be much to it. Two boys looking for work…how interesting could it be? How wrong I was.
The story went gangbusters on Facebook. More than 300 likes, more than 100 comments and dozens of shares. Turns out, youth unemployment is a pretty big problem in Ballarat and everybody acknowledges it. These boys were just two of hundreds maybe thousands of young people looking for work to no avail. They were just brave enough to put themselves out there.
To make things even more interesting, one of the guys was offered a job at a hairdressing salon the next day. I guess sometimes desperate measures are the way to go.