Mission Songs Project

Jessie Lloyd

…profoundly moving…the entire collection is sublime…
– Stephen Fitzpatrick, The Australian

Mission Songs Project is an initiative to revive contemporary Australian First Nations songs from 1900 to 1999, focusing on the Christian missions, state-run settlements and native camps where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were relocated.

Searching for the secular songs that were sung after church, Mission Songs Project looks to explore the day to day life of the mission days, from cultural identity to love and loss. These unique songs consist of almost forgotten stories that can now shed light into the history of our Indigenous elders, families and communities.

Mission Songs Project faithfully explores the musical journey of Indigenous Australian music and connects the traditional with contemporary, revealing the continuation of cultural practice and song traditions into the 21st Century. The performance is presented as a vocal trio or quartet featuring a rotating line up of Australia’s finest Aboriginal and Torres Strait vocalists including Emma Donovan, Deline Briscoe, Shelly Morris, and Jessica Hitchcock. Storytelling is a major component of the performance, adding historical context and personal stories and making the show warm, humorous and heartfelt.

The Project

Jessie Lloyd first became curious about the songs from the Aboriginal reserves or the mission days when she heard her Aunties singing an old tune from Palm Island, QLD called The Irex. The Irex was the name of the boat that used to transport the Stolen Generation children and those removed under the Aborigines Protection Act in the early to mid-20th century. This song was what the families used to sing as they didn’t know if they would see their loved ones again.

Jessie has travelled Australia visiting various communities and elders seeking their stories and advice about the music and life of the old days. So far Jessie has gathered a significant collection of around 40 – 50 ‘mission songs’, songs that were written about life on the mish’; on the settlements, reserves and native camps where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were removed.


Creator & Performer
Jessie Lloyd

Lighting Designer
Chloe Ogilvie

Sound Engineer / Touring Technician
Raine Paul

Company / Tour Manager
Denise Wilson

Produced by Performing Lines

Information for Presenters

Format The show can be scaled up or down to suit presenter needs and budgets. Options include a solo performance by Jessie Lloyd, trio, quartet, or a full band version.

Audience best suited to a middle aged to senior audience, particularly those who have an interest in history or cultural heritage. An opportunity for those interested in understanding or engaging with their local Indigenous community, through historical insights and cultural contexts. Highly suitable for Indigenous community and elders.

On-tour workshops Talking about the research component of the project, the historical and cultural contexts to songs and the missions era, teaching a few songs. Q&A is encouraged. Particularly suitable for local choir leaders or school teachers.

Pre-tour workshop One day Indigenous music masterclass with Jessie Lloyd. Cultural professional development for Indigenous musicians and an intro to the Mission Songs Project concept. Participants are encouraged to implement the concept in their own communities, to research and capture their own histories before they are lost, to share knowledge, and open up conversations.

Vanessa Wright Senior Producer

Presentation History

Middleback Theatre
Whyalla, SA
Port Augusta Institute Theatre
Port Augusta, SA
Geelong Arts Centre
Geelong, VIC
View full Presentation History

Full Presentation History for Mission Songs Project

Middleback Theatre
Whyalla, SA
Port Augusta Institute Theatre
Port Augusta, SA
Geelong Arts Centre
Geelong, VIC
Darebin Arts Centre
Preston, Melbourne, VIC
Moncrieff Entertainment Centre
Bundaberg, QLD
Cowra Civic Centre
Cowra, NSW
Hothouse Theatre
Albury-Wodonga, VIC
Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre
Bathurst, NSW
Theatre Royal
Hobart, TAS
Cardinia Cultural Centre
Pakenham, VIC
Riverlinks Westside
Shepparton, VIC
Geelong Performing Arts Centre
Geelong, VIC
Latrobe Performing Arts Centre
Traralgon, VIC

Project Partners & Acknowledgements

Mission Songs Project is produced by Performing Lines and supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Indigenous Languages and Arts program; and the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.