Words and music

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at The Wheeler Centre

Rama Lama Ding Dong

“Lyrics don’t mean anything! Like ‘Rama-lama-ding-dong’ or ‘Give Peace a Chance’!” Homer Simpson

The Edsels released, “Rama Lama Ding Dong” in 1958 which became a national hit, but surely not because of the lyrics. Would Bach have been better with words? What would Gilbert be without Sullivan or Rodgers without Hammerstein? And what comes first, the music or the lyrics? On November 5th, the Australian Poetry Centre has decided the music comes first, with a competition called What Comes First, offering poets and wordsmiths all over Australia the chance to write the lyrics for a new hit single! The music has been written by established composer/music producer, James Roche.

The AP’s What Comes First? competition, which offered poets and wordsmiths all over Australia the chance to write the lyrics for a new hit single, will culminate with short-listed applicants performing their lyrics to music composed by James Roche hoping their words will be the perfect fit for the song. The winner will be announced on the night.

Listen to the music here.

This event is in partnership with the Australian Poetry.

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Portrait of James Roche

James Roche

James Roche is an award-winning music producer, songwriter and composer.

Portrait of Deborah Conway

Deborah Conway

Deborah Conway is a singer/songwriter who shot to fame as the lead singer of Do Re Mi.

She is a significant and eloquent contributor to Australian music, singing songs that chronicle the essential elements of life, love, loss, memory, the mundane and the spiritual for the past 30 years. As lead singer for Do Re Mi her voice was first heard by many on the single 'Man Overboard'.

She’s gone on to sing on The Iron Man by Pete Townsend, alongside Nina Simone and John Lee Hooker, and acting and singing in Peter Greenaway’s film Prospero’s Books. In 1991 she released her debut solo album, String of Pearls, which won her the Best Female ARIA award that year. She has continued to write and record. In May 2010, Conway and partner Willy Zygier launched their ninth studio album, Half Man Half Woman, recorded in Melbourne with producer James Black. Conway and Zygier have just released a new album, Everybody’s Begging, and have been touring the album to sold-out concert halls along the east coast.


Portrait of Ben Birchall

Ben Birchall

Ben Birchall is a writer, broadcaster and creative director who has worked in radio, advertising and digital publishing. He hosted 3RRR FM’s Breakfasters from 2009-2012 and is currently the host of Ingredipedia – a factual food fight podcast that consistently tops the iTunes Australia food charts. His writing has appeared in the Age, Smith Journal and Frankie and his advertising work for clients like NAB, Mars, CUB and the Wheeler Centre has won awards internationally.

Portrait of Eliza Hull

Eliza Hull

Eliza Hull is a producer and musician based in Castlemaine, Victoria. She has written music for American TV shows Awkward, Teen Wolf and Saving Hope, and is currently writing the film score for Australian feature film Swallow.

Most recently, Eliza produced an eight-part podcast series, We've Got This, on parenting with a disability, for the ABC – as well as a podcast series on disability and relationships for ABC RN.

Eliza is currently producing the TV episode ‘And Then Something Changed’, about the experience of having a disability as a child; this will be aired on ABCME in November 2019 as part of the Disrupted initiative. Eliza is a proud disabled woman, with a physical disability. She is the Access and Inclusion Coordinator for Arena Theatre.

Words and music

All of our lives have soundtracks. We cherish certain songs that have meant something to us in our lives, lyrics that have helped us through tough times and inspired us to do better, or think differently. Similarly, everyone has a shortlist of seminal books, or short stories, or poems that have made a difference to them – pieces of writing that have formed who they are.

Who do our favourite writers listen to? What do the musicians we admire love to read? In each event, our guest writer will highlight two pieces of music that have inspired their writing, while our guest musician tells us about two pieces of writing that have helped shape their musical direction. We eavesdrop on their exchange of treasures, and the conversation that ensues.


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