#metoo founder Tarana Burke & punk icon Henry Rollins announced as BIGSOUND’s first speakers

The Southern Hemisphere’s biggest music industry gathering is making big moves 7-9 September, with a program set to change the future of the music industry for the better of all.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this September, BIGSOUND 2021 will not only retain its position as the biggest industry event and celebration of new music this side of the equator but will once again dive headfirst into the most pressing issues affecting music today.

Never one to shy away from the important, taboo, and at times difficult subjects that impact the music industry at large, BIGSOUND is inviting powerful voices to deliver compelling keynote speeches, including inspirational #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, and punk rock icon, spoken word poet, actor, author and DJ, Henry Rollins, with more to be announced soon.

Tarana, whose latest work is etched in You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience, a book written collaboratively with Brené Brown, offers a game-changing insight into the global #MeToo movement and a unique perspective into the intersection of sexual violence and racial justice.

“I’m looking forward to sharing my story at BIGSOUND in what has been a 25-year journey laying the groundwork for a movement that amplifies the voices of millions of survivors and addresses issues of respect, dignity, and power dynamics in schools, workplaces, communities, and politics,” said Tarana, named TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year and 100 Most Influential People of 2018.

This year, the BIGSOUND Conference will pick up where countless important keynote speakers and panelists left off; from the then Pitchfork Editor Jessica Hopper’s powerful 2015 speech, which asked “Why do women feel like they don’t belong here?”, to Tina Arena’s compelling discussion about gender bias in 2017 and Moju’s 2019 address on racism and bullying.

Delivering the unique keynotes live from the USA, BIGSOUND guests will have the exclusive opportunity to delve into the minds of these deeply respected figures, asking their burning questions and collaboratively weighing in on the matters at hand.

2021 also welcomes an exciting First Nations-led edition of BIGSOUND’s biennial youth conference, this year named Little BLAKSOUND, presented by Digi Youth Arts (DYA), Queensland’s only Indigenous youth arts organisation, and QMusic.

To be held on Monday 6 September, Little BLAKSOUND co-curators Sycco, Jem Cassar-Daley, DOBBY, and Loki Liddle will be mentored by BIGSOUND First Nations Programmer and Producer, Alethea Beetson, to elevate, celebrate and represent the voices and perspectives of current and up-and-coming First Nations artists and industry workers.

Through thought-provoking panel discussions and hands-on workshops, Little BLAKSOUND invites the music industry to listen and explore how the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and arts leaders can be placed at the forefront of industry conversations.

“Indigenous young people are so incredibly important as they are the youngest generation of the oldest surviving cultures in the world. Little BLAKSOUND provides a much-needed space for them to share their vision of the future, connect and demand change within the music industry,” said Alethea.

This year, BIGSOUND boasts a powerhouse team at the forefront of such progressive, necessary change, including Conference Programmer, Tom Larkin, First Nations Programmer and Producer, Alethea Beetson, Festival Programmers, Ruby-Jean McCabe and Dom Miller, Conference Programming Advisor, Sosefina Fuamoli, and Accessibility Consultant, Dina Bassile.

Newly-appointed QMusic CEO, Kris Stewart, said that BIGSOUND 2021 will provide an exciting and much-needed opportunity for the music community to come back together after a turbulent time for the industry and pave the way forward.

“This year, we have the incredible chance to reconnect, recharge and experience the magic of discovering new music with one another again – friends, colleagues, and music-obsessed strangers – who, for too long, have been separated by geographical borders,” said Kris.

“It’s an absolute honour to have the calibre of talent in Tarana Burke and Henry Rollins to bring their powerful insight to BIGSOUND for what will be an important piece of the puzzle as the industry grapples with the big issues to progress real, positive change.”

Following on from the powerful words of the keynotes, BIGSOUND 2021 is committed to delivering the safest event in its 20-year history, with a new patron Code of Conduct being instigated across the event and a series of new safety initiatives, including the introduction of a Safety Response Team.

World-renowned for hosting three days of music discovery, industry-leading discussions, and the most anticipated must-attend parties on the music event calendar, BIGSOUND makes its return in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley to reunite the industry’s greatest names, future stars, and music fans, all in one place.

Early-bird conference passes are now on sale. With limited tickets on offer due to COVID capacity, secure your seat today to discover, change and be part of the future of Australian music at bigsound.org.au.

BIGSOUND is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, the Australian Government through the Australia Council, and APRA AMCOS.

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