Listen: Hear Australia’s Queen of soul and blues, Mahalia Barnes, share the importance of music at Christmas and why Australian musicians deserve our support
Mahalia Barnes is music royalty in Australia. Her career started when she was just a kid, performing with the Tin Lids. Thirty years later, that record still features in the Barnes family Christmas celebrations.
“Dad will be embarrassed by this, but when we were kids we recorded a Christmas album as the Tin Lids, 30 years ago this year. My Dad, every Christmas, he’ll put on the Tin Lids Christmas album every year, whether we like it or not,” Mahalia said.
“He’ll have a little tear. He gets a bit emotional, he does. This tough rock ‘n’ roller, he’s quite an emotional guy.
“So there’s always a bit of Tin Lids playing in the morning while Dad reminisces.”
The Barnes family love Christmas, and music is a big part of that. The family comes together to sing and jam, and enjoy time together.
“We’re a big family, there’s a lot of us, we’re a close family. And we love Christmas. It’s such a fantastic time to get together and catch up with the whole family and really show a bit of love and appreciation for the year that’s passed.”
“It’s such a fantastic time to get together and catch up with the whole family and really show a bit of love and appreciation for the year that’s passed,” – Mahalia Barnes
But it hasn’t been an easy year in the music industry. Creative industries have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
“We rely on large crowds ideally to make what we do work, and to connect with people and play.”
“It’s not quite the same without an audience,” Mahalia said.
“So with all the border closures and restrictions and social distancing and capacity restrictions it’s been incredibly difficult for the arts. We’re really glad to see that things are starting to open back up and we’re hoping that things will get back to some semblance of normal soon.”
Mahalia said that in the first lockdown of 2020 she tried to reset, stay positive and enjoy more time with family, but they all missed performing.
“I love what I do. And we all love to perform in my family. We tried to find ways to still do that via Instagram and Facebook, we were doing some online performances,” she said.
“It was a little strange without having an audience there at all and doing all these performances in front of a computer screen or a phone. But we certainly found that we had a lot of fun doing that and we got such a great response from people online.
“Hopefully it brought a smile to some people’s faces like it did for us.”
Mahalia is positive about the prospects for live local music over the festive season. New research commissioned by Vicinity shows that 95 per cent of Australians say that music positively impacts their lives and most people also want to see more support for the arts.
“I think that people are really hungry for entertainment, for music and for that connection to each other,” she said.
“Most people really do understand that the arts have been hit hard by the pandemic.”
“From our point of view as performers, we’re just super excited to get back out there because we know how much music brings joy to people.
“And especially at a time like this, in the lead-up to Christmas, it’s the perfect time to get out and see some live music and support artists and connect with our loved ones and create new memories.”
To find out where Mahalia Barnes is performing this summer, visit mahaliabarnes.com.au.
Listen to Mahalia’s full conversation on Hope Mornings in the player above.