Emma Donovan and the Putbacks.
Emma Donovan and the Putbacks bring soul to Boorloo
Shannon McGuire – February 14, 2023
Emma Donovan at Perth Festival. Credit: Sophie Minissale
Australia’s queen of soul, Emma Donovan, hit the stage in Boorloo (Perth) at Perth Festival Sunday night and her electrifying soul ballads with the rhythm combo of the Putbacks had concert goers in awe.Thanks to their mutual love of American soul and the protest music of First Nations Australia, the combination is nothing short of dynamic, drawing inspiration from the likes of Aretha Franklin and Al Green and fusing that together with the influences of Coloured Stone and Warumpi Band gives Donovan and the Putback their unique Australian slant.The Gumbaynggirr and Yamaji singer started her career at the age of seven, singing with her uncle’s band The Donovans before going solo. She has performed with the likes of her cousin Casey Donovan, Archie Roach, Christine Anu, Yothu Yindi, Jimmy Little, Tiddas and many more.With a career spanning over two decades, Donovan once opened the 2004 Summer Olympic torch relay and was the subject of her own documentary on SBS, Gumbaynggir Lady.Although she has stated she is proud of her Naaguja, Yamaji, and Danggali heritage, she most frequently expresses her Gumbaynggirr heritage from her mother’s side in her music, often singing in the traditional language and writing her own music in what has been described as optimistic, impassioned and bruisingly honest.