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 called Wárrwarra was independently released 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.
From this first release, the band took off, touring nationally to festivals such as Barunga (NT: 2018, 2021), Garma (NT: 2018, 2022), Nannup (WA: 2019), Mona Foma (TAS: 2020), Tarnanthi (SA: 2018), Bush Bands Bash (NT: 2018), Darwin Festival (2020, 2021). They recorded the Na-kara children's song 'Nabárrdja - the Little Crab' as part of the ABC Kids Indigenous Lullabies
ARIA nominated release. Their music was featured on SBS food show, 'A Taste of the Territory' and the ICTV award winning documentary 'Yókkarra' about the Maningrida fisheries at the traditional homelands of Nardilmuk.
The members of the band have also branched out into a range of projects, Rachel Thomas, Rona Lawrence and Jodie Kell worked with Kuníbidji elders and composer Alex Turley to create the orchestral piece, 'Barra-róddjiba' performed with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra as part of Darwin Festival in 2021. In 2022, Tara Rostron and Jodie Kell toured Victoria and NSW as the folk duo Yabok. Drummers Jolene Lawrence and Harriet Fraser-Barbour were featured in Hey Drums Series 'Interviews with Australian Drummers' and Patricia Gibson and Jodie kell's song 'Ngúddja' was remixed in a collaboration with producer Papertoy. This song was chosen to open the 2022 Country to Couture Indigenous fashion Show with Gapuwiyak Arts Centre.
The band is inspiring and they hope to encourage Indigenous women, in fact all people, to be proud of who they are and where they come from. As the first women from their community to take up instruments and form their own band they are brave and bold. The strong frontline of vocalists singing in stunning harmonies in five Aboriginal languages and English is backed by a solid band providing classic Arnhem Land reggae rock. Their energy is contagious as they passionately believe in the power of music to make a difference, to heal and to reach across differences.
In her Acknowledgement of Country at the Cantabile Choir Festival at the Sydney Opera House in 2022, singer and cultural manager Rachel Thomas said:
"In my community we have ceremonies that bring everyone together. We dance Bunggul for different songs, different tribes and different languages, but music brings us all together. We know Aboriginal people have been dancing and singing here on this Country in the same way for a long time. We know that they continue keeping culture strong and looking after the land."
The band is touring south in 2022. Starting with Tanamon Valley Festival on Yaegl Country near Grafton in the Northern Rivers region, they head south to New Annual Festival in Newcastle, Sydney then to Castlemaine and Melbourne in Victoria. They are working on a new album to be released in 2023 and will play songs from the album on the tour.
Languages: Kune, Dalabon
Skin Name: Bangardidjan
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.
Music is strong in Tara’s family, both traditional and contemporary. Her mother and her grandmother taught her how to dance for Mimih ceremony. Her father, Victor Rostron, is a well known singer and musician. Her brothers and cousins play in the heavy rock outfit Wildfire Manwurrk. After learning about singing from her family, Tara went to Maningrida High School where she learnt to play drums, bass guitar and guitar.
Tara has been co-producing the new album with Jodie Kell, supported by Michael Hohnen from Skinnyfish Music. She is developing a solo act called Yabok and runs music workshops for young women in Yuendumu community as part of Music NT's Sista Sounds. Tara strongly believes music is a way to send positive messages and to bring about change.
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 opened the 2022 Cantabile Music Festival at the Sydney Opera House with an Acknowledgement of Country. Her song, 'Cyclone' was performed by the 400 primary school children choir. In 2021 she was co-composer for Barra-róddjiba, performed with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.
Languages: Na‐kara, Burarra, Ndjébbana
Skin Name: Wamutchan
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, accepting a Northern Territory Music Award on stage at the Darwin Ampitheatre in 2006. The band was part of a new wave of female musicians coming out of Maningrida at this time.
Rona's 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 Milingimbi in 1995. Today Rona carries the memory of her father when she plays the bass guitar in the band.
Rona is mother to three boys Harris, Nemiah and Rayshaun. She first toured with Rayshaun when he was 4 months old to Barunga Festival. She is proud to be a young mother who is following her dreams and when she is on stage her voice can be heard strong and clear.
Born in Sydney NSW
Skin Name: Nja-bulanj
Learning Kune and Ndjébbana
Jodie Kell is a multi-instrumentalist and manager of the band. She plays lead guitar highly influenced by Aboriginal bands such as Letterstick Band, Nabarlek Band, Warumpi Band and Yothu Yindi.
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 Kune and Burarra languages, has contributed to a deeper understanding of the depth of
Jodie is currently studying a PhD in Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she works as an audio engineer at PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered languages and music. She co-producers the podcast Toksave: Culture Talks with Tolai man Steven Gagau.
Jodie learnt music from her mother and she is passionate about supporting women to produce, perform and participate music. She works with Music NT's Sista Sounds, as well as setting up Monotoca Music with producers Ta'sia and Clarence Playford. Jodie is a vibrant force in the band who finds that playing music is a form of communication that brings people together to celebrate of culture and diversity.
Language: Na-Kara, Burarra, Ndjébbana
Skin Name: Wamutchan
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 composes songs in her language of Na-kara and is influenced by the An-barra musicians of the Letterstick Band who are close family. in 2021, her son Yonaz was born and Jolene continues to tour with him, determined to keep doing what she loves. Her strong drumming steers the band but when she picks up the microphone she shares her emotional connection to Country and Kin.
Languages: Ndjébbana, Kuninjku, Kun-barlang, Na-kara
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 is an established gospel singer and composer. With her brother, she records songs that reflect the troubles she has seen and the strength needed to overcome. Music is a way of expressing and healing. It is also fun and exciting and this is shown in Patricia's energy on stage and off.
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.