Small Island Big Song concert & outreach
Framed in a theatrical narrative amongst panoramic visuals of the artist’s homelands, the audience experiences a musical journey across the breadth and into the soul of island nations of the Pacific and Indian Ocean, meeting an ancient seafaring ancestry and confronting the impacts of climate crisis head on, as the performers and youth ambassadors share their island's voice supported through the cinematic sequences.
Drawing on a roster of respected first nation artists, the concert features musicians performing irresistible oceanic grooves to soulful island ballads engaging audiences from huge festival stages to intimate theatres. Combining music, spoken word and live cinema with AV projections featuring footage collected during a 3-year film trip across 16 countries guided by the artists on their homelands.
Moving beyond the concert experience, Small Island Big Song offers a variety of opportunities for students and audiences to investigate the environmental, political, social and cultural contexts on our oceans’ islands.
Small Island Big Song is a multi-platform project uniting the seafaring cultures of the Pacific and Indian Oceans through songs, a contemporary and relevant musical statement from a region at the frontline of the Climate Crisis.
Founded by Taiwanese producer and manager BaoBao Chen and Australian music producer and filmmaker Tim Cole in 2015, the two have been recording and filming with over a hundred musicians in nature across 16 island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The outcomes include two award-winning albums, a feature film, edu' programs, and a live concert that has toured around the world across four continents reaching over 200K+ live audiences since the world premiere at SXSW 2018.
Small Island Big Song explores the cultural connections between the descendants of the seafarers of the Pacific and Indian Oceans through the Austronesian migration. Working with artists who have made a choice to maintain the cultural voice of their people, to sing in the language, and to play the instruments of their land. These unique lineages mixed with their diverse contemporary styles - roots-reggae, beats, grunge, RnB, folk & spoken-word, establishing a contemporary musical dialogue between cultures as far afield as Madagascar, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Taiwan, Mauritius, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), creating "One coherent jaw dropping piece" as described by Rob Schwartz - Billboard.
Music critic Tom Orr has noted in the RootsWorld review “….sound like one very big, very happy family doing what they do best while helping get the word out on a most serious issue.”
2015 BaoBao & Tim quit theirs jobs after hearing the 5th IPCC report, with a dream to unite the voices of the ocean through musical collaboration
2016 to 2018 with a couple of cameras & mic's, they recorded & filmed with musicians on their custodial land across 16 island nations
2018 We premiered our concert at SXSW International Day Stage, and have been touring the world since
The artists & islands BaoBao & Tim have visited,
connected by the ocean & an ancient seafaring heritage.
Small Island Big Song project trailer
Filmed by Tim Cole & BaoBao Chen. Video Production by Tim Cole
- Full concert 90 min' with intermission -
- Youth matinee show 60 min' no intermission -
- Film screening + Virtual Q&A -
Small Island Big Song - An Oceanic Songline
- Curriculum -
Multi-media package of 5 chapters, each explores one environmental challenge we face, shared by some of the artists you will meet in person
IN-PERSON OUTREACH PROGRAM
- Workshop -
Dance workshop / party
Up-cycle instrument making workshop
- Community Engagement -
A walk with SIBS in nature
Inviting local guest musicians
Youth voice for local environmental issues
Collaborating on Mercy Mercy Me
- Panel, Multi-media Lecture & Demonstration -
Demonstration: History from an Indigenous Perspective
The Indian and Pacific Oceans share a little-known seafaring heritage, the Austronesian. Five thousand years ago, people of the Pacific designed ocean going canoes and from a beach in Taiwan, they set sail and settled on islands inc' Madagascar, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Hawai’i. The descendants of these brave seafarers surpass 400 million people today.
During this demonstration, we will comprise the conversation and musical demonstrations by Small Island Big Song artists to showcase some of the cultural & linguistic similarities their communities still share across these vast ocean expanses.
Panel: Climate Crisis - Our Response As Artists
Our islands are on the frontline of sea level rise. The people whose cultures have sustained communities in fragile environments with limited resources for countless generations, will be the first to lose their homelands due to the unsustainable lifestyles of the greater global community. As the climate crisis quickly rises to the top of world concerns, different sectors scramble to figure out ways to respond to its impending pressures. During this panel, we will explore ways in which artists can use their voices to push the needle on political, economic, social and cultural questions at the root of this global concern.
Panel: Indigenous Women Making Traditional Culture Relevant
During this panel, Small Island Big Song female artists will share their experiences as performers and cultural ambassadors. They will discuss the roles women have traditionally played in their respective cultures and discuss different ways in which they have found support and rose over challenges to realise their potential as artists and leaders in their communities.
Multi-Media Lecture: The Genesis of Small Island Big Song
Culture is the shared expression of community, which defines our relationship to our social and natural environment. During this intimate lecture demonstration, Tim Cole and BaoBao Chen will share the genesis story of Small Island Big Song while sharing an insight into their motivations as artists and storytellers.
"Honestly [Small Island Big Song] was one of the best, most wonderful projects I have worked on in a presenting career that is going on 30 years!"
- Amy Vashaw - Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State Univ'
“Small Island Big Song was definitely worth the wait! Such a pleasure to get to know each of you and see what can be created from deep, extended collaboration such as what you have engaged in.”
- Laura Evans - Bing Concert Hall / Standford Live!
"We had a wonderful experience with Small Island Big Song. The entire team was warm and great to work with and the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness of Tim and BaoBao and the entire artistic collective was felt by all who participated in the residency activities. The class visits, discussions, and workshops were superb and engaged our students and community in meaningful ways. The performance was enthralling for everyone who attended - we received so many wonderful comments from audiences as they were leaving the theater."
- Shannon Hooker - Modlin Center at Univ' of Richmond
“I think I speak for everyone at MDC Live Arts when I say that we loved working with SIBS - they have been great every step of the way!”
- Kathryn Garcia - Miami-Dade College / Live Arts Miami
Sammy has led an extraordinary life as a Madagascan musician, at a time when most picked up guitars over the traditional Valiha, Sammy followed his passion for Madagascar’s musical heritage, by mastering and learning how to make most of Madagascar’s instruments.
His efforts coming to the notice of the UK’s world music scene as his group ‘Tarika Sammy’, gained international recognition, becoming a regular on major festival stages and being acknowledged as one of the world’s best 10 bands, by TIME Magazine. Sammy has been much in demand since, and we are proud to have him at every Small Island Big Song concert.
Photo: Small Island Big Song
Powerful, entrancing, unapologetic all words used to describe Putad’s engaging stage presence. In the proud spirit of her Indigenous Amis heritage Putad unites ancient vocal traditions with raw energy of grunge, rock and punk as her and her brother Wusang’s band Outlet Drift express. Their bold, uplifting and uncompromising shows place their Amis heritage on centre stage at 100db & 100mph as they confront prejudices taking the audience on an unforgettable sonic ride.
In the Small Island Big Song ensemble, she brings this energy, her soaring voice, rock bass along with her coastal Amis ancestry and love for the ocean. A regular surfer, Putad’s connection to the ocean will be brought onto stage and into the outreach program.
Photo: Small Island Big Song
Featured on CNN, songwriter, musician and dancer, Emlyn is leading a wave of performers across the Indian Ocean proudly reclaiming their unique rhythms and cultural mix.
Written with a reactive pen and sung in Creole, her songs rebelliously express her concerns for her island’s environment. A cause she has taken up as co-founder of ‘Enn Losean Vivab’, a Mauritius based organisation educating school students about plastic pollution. Emlyn brings the infectious grooves of Sega with its soul from the African slave trade to the stage played on the Ravann, Triangle and Kayamb
Photo: Small Island Big Song
The world sees Easter Islanders as the people who foolishly depleted their natural resources deforesting their island, Yoyo Tuki confronts that image as he stands strong in his Rapa Nui ancestry steadied through a deep respect for his land and traditions as nurtured by his grandfather ‘Mana Roa’ (Great Wisdom).
A mana (Substance of presence) ringing out through his singing, music, art and performance, lifting us above our prejudices. Pioneering fusions of reggae, folk and funk with his mastery of Polynesian ukulele styles, Yoyo Tuki sings out for one of the most remote islands on Earth.
Photo: SIBS at 2023 WOMADelaide festival, Australia by Samra Teague
From Amazon Bay on the south coast of Papua New Guinea, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Richard Mogu has been a feature musician in PNG for many years as a solo artist and session musician. Excelling in both traditional and contemporary style.
Whilst bass is his feature instrument, he is also adept at mambu (bamboo flutes), garamut drumming, guitars and percussion. He was taught by legendary Sanguma founder Tony Subam.
As a mentor for Creative Arts & Music at University of Garoka, Mogu has a passion of sharing with the next generation.
Photo: Small Island Big Song
Papua New Guinea
Olivia Foa’i is a singer-songwriter, musician, director and dancer. Being the daughter of Opetaia Foa’i, the founder of internationally acclaimed Polynesian band - Te Vaka. She’s performed across 40 countries with the band and is featured on Disney's "Moana” soundtrack. In 2019 she released her debut solo album Candid and won "Best Pacific Album" in the Aotearoa Music Awards and "Best Female Artist" in the Pacific Music Awards 2020.
Photo: Small Island Big Song
Tokelau & New Zealand
In 2009 a typhoon devastated Sauljaljui’s village and community, her response was to write “Lament of Colored Cloth” a song which enabled the village to unite their tragedy and recover, winning a prestigious songwriters award in Taiwan.
Two albums and countless international concerts later, Sauljaljui is just as dedicated to her Paiwan community, directing a yearly cultural festival, being the first female leader in her community youth group, and contributing to the community's cultural canon. Recently with her elders, she created a Paiwan warriors song, now regularly performed, the first time a woman has taken this role.
Photo: Small Island Big Song
Co-Founders & Producers
Skills developed whilst studying film making at Melbourne University during the day, and producing music at night, which led to a career of equal parts film & music, for artists & events.
His reputation in Indigenous arts led to him to be the Senior Music Producer for CAAMA - Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association. It was the experiences there recording traditional songlines whilst hearing the 5th IPCC report, which led to the founding of ‘Small Island Big Song’.
Tim holds a BEd. in Media Arts from Melbourne University an A.D. in Music Production from the University of Victoria in Australia, and has received a Churchill fellowship and invitation to speak on climate change and the arts at the United Nations, APAP NYC, WOMEX. Along with industry recognition through numerous awards for projects he has played a key creative roll on.
Having curated & produced several international tours across 17 countries featuring artists from across the Indo-Pacific, whilst releasing albums, creating edu’ programs and bringing a feature film to screen, BaoBao is one of Taiwan’s most prominent producers of cross-cultural arts projects and ISPA Taiwan fellow 2023-25.
A vivid storyteller and fluent in English and Mandarin, she has a social media following of 140K+, and has been invited to present at TEDx, APAP NYC, Stanford Live!, and numerous arts festivals.
Growing up in a vegan family on an organic farm and Jane Goodall’s ‘Roots and Shoots’ program have gifted BaoBao a deep respect for nature, It was her skills in arts management and her love for nature that founded Small Island Big Song.
"A towering musical achievement but also a heartfelt plea for environmental awareness and preservation, Small Island Big Song delivers a powerful and relevant musical statement of a region on the frontline of global, cultural and environmental challenges."
- Rob Schwartz - Billboard
"One of our favourite ‘album of the week’, it’s not the usual thing."
- Lauren Laverne - BBC 6 Music UK
“Small Island Big Song is a little, jewel-like idea that grew into a huge project.” ★★★★★
- Seth Jordan - Songline Magazine UK
"For too long the term "world music" has applied overwhelmingly to music from Africa, the Indian subcontinent and South America. Asia and the Pacific have been the Cinderellas at the party. Not any more!" ★★★★★
- Bruce Elder - Sydney Morning Herald AU
“…all 74 minutes of the album sound like one very big, very happy family doing what they do best while helping get the word out on a most serious issue."
- Tom Orr - RootsWorld US
"…a playful and potent soundtrack to the region and its seafaring peoples. Utterly wonderful."
- Stuart Derdeyn - The Vancouver Sun CA
Album 'Our Island'
Concert & Residency Tour
#1 Trans Global Music Chart 2022 Feb
Nominated - 2022 Golden Melody Awards TAIWAN
Best Indigenous Album & Album of the Year
2023 The Arts Centre NYUAD, Abu Dhabi UAE
2023 ACC World Music Festival, Gwangju South Korea
2023 Taiwan International Festival of Arts, Taipei Taiwan
2023 WOMADelaide, Adelaide, Australia
2022 Cloud Gate Theatre, Taipei Taiwan
2022 Taitung Art Museum, Taitung Taiwan
2022 Italian Capital of Culture, Procida Italy
2022 Warner Grand Theatre, San Pedro CA
2022 Univ. of California in Santa Barbara, Santa Babara CA
2022 James Madison Univ. & Forbes P.A.C., Harrisonburg VA
2022 Zeiterion Perf. Art Center, New Bedford MA
2022 Dartmouth College & Spaulding Auditorium, Hanover NH
2022 Lehigh Univ. & Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem PA
2022 Penn State Univ. & Penn State P.A.C., State College PA
2022 Moraine Valley community college & Dorothy Menker Theater, Palos Hills IL
2022 Univ. of Massachusetts & Randolph W. Bromery Center, Amherst MA
2022 Symphony Space & World Music Institute, New York City NY
2022 Univ. of Richmond. & Camp Concert Hall, Richmond VA
2022 Univ. of Illinois in Urbana & Foellinger Great Hall, Urbana IL
2022 Fox Cities P.A.C., Appleton WI
2022 Miami-Dade College & North Beach Band Shell, Miami FL
2022 Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Scottsdale AZ
2022 Univ. of Arizona & Centennial hall, Tucson AZ
2022 Stanford Univ. & Bing Concert Hall, Stanford CA
2022 Pantages Theatre, Tacoma WA
2022 Mount Baker Theatre, Bellingham WA
2022 Vashon arts center, Vashon WA
2022 Town Hall Seattle, Seattle WA
Album 'Small Island Big Song'
Winner - 2019 Songlines Music Award UK - Best Asia/Pacific album
Winner - 2019 The Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics' Awards) - Album of the Year
Nominated - 2019 Independent Music Awards US - Best Concept Album & Best Music Website
★★★★★ Sydney Morning Herald, AU
★★★★★ Songlines Magazine, UK
Lauren Laverne's Album of the week on BBC Radio 6
2019 Colors of Ostrava Festival, Ostrava Czech Republic
2019 Rudolstadt Festival, Rudolstadt Germany
2019 MTC Southbank Theatre, Melbourne Australia
2019 Verona Palace, Sydney Australia
2019 Kaohsiung Container Arts Festival, Kaohsiung Taiwan
2019 Torba Arts Festival, Mota Lava Vanuatu
2018 Legacy, Taipei Taiwan
2018 Taoyuan Music Festival, Taoyuan Taiwan
2018 Førde World Music Festival, Førde Norway
2018 EtnoSur Festival, Alcalá la Real Spain
2018 Pllek, Amsterdam Holland Prachtwerk
2018 Prachtwerk, Berlin Germany
2018 Peace Boat, Copenhagen Denmark to Reykjavik Iceland
2018 Indigenous Celebration, Bali Indonesia
2018 South by South West, International Day Stage, Austin USA
2017 World Stage Design (Work in progress), Taipei Taiwan