At just twenty-years-old, Pitjantjatjara/Torres Strait Islander Miiesha released her debut album Nyaaringu that’s lyrically powerful and features a variety of sounds ranging from gospel, soul, spoken poetry and RnB. The songs on the album are inspiring while showcasing Miiesha’s gifted voice that tells the story of her people. The album explores the themes of family, race, and cultural identity and does so with ease that makes it a quality listen without any fatigue.
“Nyaaringu is a collection of stories that I wanted to tell. For me it represents my journey and where I’m at now coming from Woorabinda. The interludes (Broken Tongues, Hold Strong, and Self Care ) in the collection are recordings of my Grandmother speaking. For me she was and always will stay with me as the strongest voice in my life so I felt she had to be a part of this with me.”
Miiesha’s opening track “Caged Bird” is a metaphor of oppression while she sings in tribal hymns. Her next song “Black Privilege” addresses the assumption people make about her and her community without really knowing. “Black Privilege” conveys a 90s TLC vibe while Miiesha details the pains of survival. After a discussion with a producer and knowing what she wanted of her sound, “Drowning” was created. The weight and heaviness of her vulnerable vocals just strengthen the entirety of Nyaaringu. Miiesha uses her narrative and native voice in “Broken Tongues” to share moments where she felt she didn’t fit in– then realizing her ancestral story is important to shaping her persona. Her grandmother mentioned, “Every generation breakdowns discrimination and racism”, which Miiesha is doing with her music.
Her song “Hold Strong” is how the media portrays her people. Miiesha sings in pain, frustration and revelation that really amplifies the track. “Tjitji” which translates to “child” was a letter for Miiesha’s younger sister on how she regrets missing out on her growing up at a time she was pursuing music. The intro of the song has a recording of her sister that gives pause for one of the more poignant moments on the entire album, before proceeding into a beautiful lullaby and ballad. “Twisting Words” is an upbeat track with a killer 70s solo guitar-style about how the truth can be twisted around, while “Blood Cells” sounds like a current hip-hop track but in-depth it’s a protest for education over incarceration. “Self Care” is a harmonious song about loving who you are and accepting your mistakes. Nyaaringu is an amazing debut from Miiesha, as it conveys messages that are straight from the heart, while unknowingly being a most relevant album in the current social climate in the United States. Themes of acceptance, embracing your culture and never letting anyone dismiss you based on your heritage are universal and are presented eloquently against a sonic backdrop that isn’t intrusive. Miiesha has really honed her talent singing since she was eight years old and now she’s using her luscious voice and lyrics to educate the world.