Broadcaster Profile – Danielle Tuwai

In between her busy schedule working as the arts development and events coordinator at Gadigal and running the popular Redfern Night Markets, Danielle Tuwai also hosts her own program (Artbeat) every Thursday between 2-3pm on Koori Radio. Thanks to her mum, herself a former broadcaster at Koori Radio among other community stations,  Danielle grew up in and around radio studios and hosted her first Koori Radio program in 1993.

“Coming back to radio as an adult,  it’s been really easy to re-embrace, I feel like radio and media is in my blood,” says Danielle.

Tune in to Artbeat each week to get the latest community arts and events news, and listen to a diverse selection of First Nations tunes from home and abroad.

Where were you born/where did you grow up?

Danielle: I was born at Green Lane Hospital in Auckland, Aotearoa, and moved to Sydney with my mum when I was six. I grew up in Waterloo, Sydney.  My ancestry is Maori (Ngati Porou and Nga Puhi) and Fijian/Tongan (Dalaconi and Haiapai Island).

Who is someone that has inspired you?

Danielle: My mother.

What kind of music/artists did you enjoy listening to growing up?

Danielle: I grew up listening to a lot of soul, reggae and funk music. We always had a wicked collection of music like Michael Jackson, George Benson, Bob Marley, Roberta Flack, Grace Jones, Simply Red, Sade, Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, Steel Pulse. As a teenager I listened to Boyz II Men, Mary J Blige and Brian McKnight, NWA, KRS-One, Biggie. That was the music of the times.

Who are your favourite music artists today?

Danielle: Any artists who are true to their music. I appreciate almost all styles of music.

Do you have a favourite ABSTI artist?

Danielle: I always love the classics, Warumpi Band, Roger Knox, Mac Silver, Bobby McLeod, all the old school.

Do you have a favourite Maori or Pacific Islander artist?

Danielle: Beau Monga to Ladi6 and old school group Ardijah. There’s just too many to choose from.  

How did you get into singing and performance?

Danielle: When I was seven I was watching Australia’s Young Talent Time and I wanted lessons but I was a shy kid. When I was nine my mum enrolled me at The Redfern Dance Theatre and I learnt dance and gained confidence performing in front of others. I moved from dance to singing and have been lucky to have been involved in the arts ever since. Being able to go to Newtown Performing Arts High School from Year 9 and participating in arts development workshops really helped with my performance development too.

What’s the highlight of your singing/performance career?

Danielle: Performing at Hip Hopera 95, as well as Yabun for Dukebox and The Renegades of Munk

What was the last concert you went to?

Danielle: The last show I saw was Briggs & Trails and the Bad Apples Crew at Newtown Social. The last concert was Grace Jones in June, unbelievable! 

What was the first concert you went to?

Danielle: I like to think it was Bob Marley and the Wailers concert in Auckland. My mother jumped the fence when she was pregnant with me to see him. Technically though, the first ever concert I went to would have been George Benson which is still pretty cool.  

Best gig you’ve ever been to?

Danielle: I’d have to say the most memorable show’s I’ve seen have been Angelique Kidjo’s

How did you get into radio?

Danielle: I grew up playing in the hallways of radio stations. My mum volunteered at Radio Redfern, Skid Row, 2SER and worked at Koori Radio, as a single mum she took me with her everywhere! I got my first taste of announcing at 10 years of age. Radio Redfern was more than a radio station, it was a community drop-in centre for the people’s voice, young ones would jump on air and panel with their parents, uncles and aunties. People would just come in from the street to share a story or message. It was a pretty powerful time for Radio in Redfern in the ‘80’s. There was no formal training, you just got stuck into it. These were the times of the reel-to-reel and records which always made for interesting broadcasting. Coming back to radio as an adult it’s been really easy to reembrace, I feel like radio and media is in my blood.

How long have you been broadcasting on Koori Radio?

Danielle: I brought my show ‘The Funky Diva’s’ over from Skidrow when Koori Radio Kicked off in 1993. There was a crew of young ladies from the community broadcasting after school on Thursday’s from 4-6pm. The show lasted until 1998 when I moved to England. It is pretty special to be back broadcasting and working at Koori Radio.

What’s your program Artbeat all about?

Danielle: Artbeat is about art, culture and events within our Koori Radio broadcasting footprint. I also highlight the great things that are happening at Koori Radio like Klub Koori events, programs, OB’s (outside broadcasts) and radio shows.

What do you enjoy most about being on radio?

Danielle: Talking with the community and sharing stories. I also really enjoy researching and introducing new songs from other First Nations countries and Aboriginal Australia.

What’s your favourite album of all time?

Danielle: Master Blaster Jammin – Stevie Wonder.

Outside of broadcasting, what are some of your interests?

Danielle: When I’m not at Gadigal, I’m organising the Redfern Night Markets.  I love showing off our community through the creative arts at a grass roots level. Seeing local individuals and organisations get involved and benefit from the markets presence has been the most rewarding so far. When Im not organising an event I  really enjoy travelling and spending time with family and friends, listing and creating music and checking out live shows and music.  

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know about?

Danielle: There’s something about Karaoke that makes me dread it. I can’t pin point why but it makes my stomach turn.

Do you have favourite saying or motto?

Danielle: My Grandfather Joe’s life mantra – ‘a lot of determination can breakdown any steel fortification’.

Favourite movie?

Danielle: Boyz in the Hood

Favourite food?

Danielle: Seafood

What’s something in your life you couldn’t do without?

Danielle: Music

Do you have a favourite radio guest or interview you have done on the show?

Danielle: I interviewed Michael Franti earlier this year which was a lot of fun.