Ripple Effect Band are an all woman’s band coming from Maningrida in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. Whilst following in the tradition of saltwater rock from the top end, they are forging new ground and a new sound as the first women from their community to play instruments and make their own band. They sing in the languages of their people, Ndjébbana, Burarra, Na-kara and Kune and they have a story to tell about their land, their languages and their culture.
Coming from successful tours to Bak’bididi and Gattjirrk Festivals in 2017, they travelled to Sydney to record a four track EP with producers Paul Mac, Clint Bracknell and Jodie Kell. Four songs, four languages the EP is due for independent release in July 2018. It includes Hunting Song, the first song to be recorded in the highly endangered Na-Kara language and the hauntingly beautiful Diyama (Mermaid Song) telling of the mermaids of the Kupanga country that includes the voice of Stephanie James’ father D.Maxwell singing the An-barra songline Diyama, an emotional tribute to this man who passed away before he could hear the final song.
Ripple Effect Band are an act not to be missed as they have a contagious energy and excitement born from their love of music and their strong commitment to the band. As Stephanie James says, “We are women and we are 100% band group, music makes us alive”.
Skin Name: Nja‐wakadj
Marita’s confidence and strong belief in the value of music make her a voice to be listened to. She is a singer in the band and she loves to dance and move to the music bringing a vibrancy and excitement to the stage.
Marita learnt music at Maningrida High School where she was a member of the successful Front Street Girls. She is a single mother and she showed her ability to work hard when she returned to school after having her daughter, graduating from year 12 in 2009.
This commitment to following her dreams can be seen in her love of music and performing. After school she continued on to perform on many occasions in Maningrida, both on stage at the Lúrra Festival and as a vocalist in the Indigenous Hip-hop Music Video’s.
Marita is passionate about her community and is a role model for young women to stand up, be strong and express themselves through music and dance.
Skin Name: Nja-wamud
Rachel Thomas is a singer and song writer in the band. Her beautiful voice gives a depth to the vocals and her songs tell stories of Maningrida history.
Rachel developed her music through gospel singing in Maningrida and surrounding communities. She and her husband would write songs together and she still sings those songs today. Inspired by the all women’s line up of the band, Rachel has been writing new material with other women song writers.
Rachel has a deep knowledge and understanding of culture. She has learnt from her mother, aunties and grandmother about music, country and language. Travelling on country in Arnhem Land with Rachel, she will share stories and cultural knowledge, as she is passionate about teaching and passing on this knowledge for future generations.
Rachel has a sense of fun that keeps the band laughing and enjoying life and at any festival after performing, you will find her on the dance floor. She loves music and singing and the band is an outlet for her creative energy and for her passion of keeping language and culture alive.
Languages: Ndjébbana, Kunwinjku, Kun-‐barlang (grandmother language), Na-‐kara (mother clan group)
Skin Name: Nja-wakadj
Patricia is an exciting and confident front woman who plays keyboard and sings in the band. Music is an important part of her life that she likes sharing with all people, her family and community.
Patricia grew up on the tiny outstation of Modkorldjban, in the rocky country. When she was 10 years old she moved to Maningrida and that is when she started learning music with her Ndjebbana brothers, sisters and two brothers-‐in-‐law. They played Gospel music and they taught her how to play the keyboard and how to sing. Her family sing in language Ndjebbana and English.
On her father’s side, Patricia is connected to the renowned Kuninjku singers and artists Crusoe Kurddal, Owen Yalandja and Samuel Bonson, from the rocky country. Her mother’s side is from the saltwater people, her mother spoke Na-kara from the east of Maningrida, and her grandmother spoke Kun-barlang from the west of Maningrida.
Patricia’s music is grounded in strong language and connection to country, and she sings about life in Maningrida as a young woman.
Language: Na-Kara, Burarra, Ndjébbana
Skin Name: Njábangarda
Dreaming: Na-barla Ki-nindawabba
Jolene has been a key figure in the development of women’s music in Maningrida. Her dream to make a band with other women and aim to take the band out of Maningrida and interstate has been a driving force for Ripple Effect Band. This backed by her strong guitar playing and steady drumming makes her a musical force.
Jolene learnt music at Maningrida High School and she was a leading member of the Front Street Girls who had a successful tour to Garma Festival in 2007, winning a Northern Territory Music Award for best high school band. This was part of the new wave of female musicians coming out of Maningrida which has resulted in the formation of Ripple Effect Band.
Jolene’s language of Na-Kara is highly endangered with just a few people able to speak fluently. She is very proud of her background and she has written what is possibly the first song to ever be recorded in Na-Kara language. She collaborated with the community, sitting with her grandmother and aunties to compose the lyrics, thus using music to bring people together to celebrate and maintain cultural knowledge.
Jolene has been influenced by the Letterstick Band, who she calls her family, and their members have mentored her to be a strong and vibrant musician who is at ease on stage and in the rehearsal room. Jolene dreams of playing music around Australia and overseas, and she loves meeting people and sharing music with them.
Rona plays bass guitar in the band. Her steady bass groove keeps the band grounded and gets the crowd up and dancing.
Rona learnt music at Maningrida High School. She was a member of the Front Street Girls, who had a very successful tour to Garma Festival in 2007, winning a Northern Territory Music Award with this ground breaking all girls band. This was part of a new wave of female musicians coming out of Maningrida at this time.
Her father was a renowned musician, the bass player of the Letterstick Band. He spoke Na-‐ kara, a very endangered language group from the coast east of Maningrida. Her mother’s side is Burarra, from the An-‐barra/Martay clan from the Jimardi outstation.
Rona believes music is important for her future and also to follow in the footsteps of her father. When she was a young girl, she would cry for her father until the band would agree to take her on tour with them, travelling to Tennant Creek when she was three years old and also to Milimgimbi in 1995. Today Rona carries the memory of her father when she plays the bass guitar in the band.
Languages: Na‐kara, Burarra, Ndjébbana
Skin Name: Nja-‐gojok (Wamutchan)
Dreaming: Na-marrmarra(Sacred dreaming spirit shaped like long narrow shield found at the sand bar near Nakalamandjarda)
Na-barla Ki-nindawabba (Dreaming spirit found in the red rock on the eastern side of Na-‐kara coast)
Rona is mother to three sons: Rayshaun (shown here in this photo, and Harris and Nemiah
Language: An-Barra Burarra
Skin name: Bulanyjan
Stephanie brings a strong musical background and experience to the band. She plays drum kit, bass and sings and her high energy performance, especially when she driving the drum kit, makes the music come alive.
Music runs through Stephanie’s blood. Her fathers, David and Colin Maxwell and her classificatory grandfather Terence Wilson were founding members of the famous Maningrida band, The Letterstick Band. She calls the drummer Alan Murphy and the bass player Roland Lawrence her uncles and Tim Wilson her grandson. They have been a major influence on her musical journey.
Stephanie learnt to play music at Maningrida High School. She was a leading member of the Front Street Girls who had a very successful tour to Garma Festival in 2007, winning a Northern Territory Music Award with this ground breaking all girls band. This was part of a new wave of female musicians coming out of Maningrida at this time.
Stephanie says she is a traditional dancer 100%. She dances Diyama (shell fish) on her father’s side and Wak Wak (crow) on her mother’s side. Her grandmother taught her to dance and all about ceremony.
Stephanie feels that music is her footsteps guiding her through her future and her past that her dad and all her An-‐Barra family has passed onto her.
Languages: Kune, Dalabon
Skin Name: Bangardidjan
Clan: Bunungu Wurrbbarn
Tara Rostron brings a tradition of music from the Rocky Country to the band. She moves between the drum kit, the bass and the guitar. She sings in her own language of Kune from the freshwater country. But her great grandfather was from saltwater country so she sings back up for songs in those languages.
Music is strong in Tara’s family, both traditional and contemporary. Her mother and her grandmother taught her how to dance for ceremony called Mimih. Her father, Victor Rostron, is a well known singer and musician. From the time she was a little girl, she has watched her father singing and playing guitar, joining in with him learning and writing music. Her brothers formed their band, the KK Band out bush at a place called Dukaladjarranj and sometimes Tara sings on stage with them.
After learning about singing from her family, Tara went to Maningrida High School where she learnt to play drums, bass guitar and guitar at the music studio. She was a younger student than the Front Street Girls but she was following them and learning from them too. She would watch Rona playing bass and that’s how she learnt to play. Now she is playing in the band with them.
For Tara, music is a way to make her family proud and to make people feel happy in their community.
Born in Sydney NSW
Skin Name: Nja-bulanj
Learning Ndjébbana and Burarra
Jodie Kell plays lead guitar in the band. She is a multi-instrumentalist who learnt to play piano from her mother at a young age. Jodie works as an audio engineer at PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered languages and music.
Jodie is Balanda, the local word used to describe white people. She first moved to Maningrida with her family in 2001. Living in Maningrida community, she has been adopted into the community being given a skin name. Learning Ndjébbana and Burarra languages, Jodie finds that playing music is a form of communication that brings people together and is a celebration of culture and difference.
Jodie has learnt music two ways.She is currently studying a PhD in Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Her research is ethnographic in nature and includes gendered perspectives on musical practice, audio engineering theory and techniques and issues surrounding the transmission of cultural knowledge in endangered language communities. Her PhD project is focused on the Ripple Effect Band.
Jodie has also studied with local Arnhem Land musicians for 30 years, learning about the power of song to bridge between old and new ways.
Sponsors and Support
We are thankful for all of the support we have received on our journey as a band.
Our elders, our family and our community in Maningrida and throughout Arnhem Land support us and for this we thank them so much.
Our friends and family in Sydney and Darwin as well as the music industry in Australia have helped us get our music and story out.
We would also like to thank the organisations and companies that have supported us. They are shown here.
Please contact our manager, Jodie Kell, if you are interested in supporting us.