DENMARK songstress and human rights activist Dawn Barrington continues to blend two of her passions as she take her message to the masses.
Barrington was first properly introduced to music seven years ago when she attended a local TAFE music program.
“I went to go and do something for a bit or fun and then I guess I got a bit carried away,” she said.
“I was working with a guy called Tony King who is a brilliant teacher.
“He just continues to plant seeds around Denmark, which is great for growing local talents.”
Barrington’s music developed into a sound she was already very familiar with as part of the local bar and café music scene.
“I usually describe it as contemporary folk, folk-rock maybe,” she said.
“It’s along the lines of what I think a lot of solo acoustic acts do these days.
“If you’re not blues, you’re simply folk. I guess it’s that kind of thing.”
Barrington explained how her music and activism became more strongly connected over the years.
“I’ve always been a writer, so that’s probably the thread that got me into it,” she said.
“A lot of my stuff is activist-based; it’s about social and environmental issues.”
This was the spark for her latest collaborative project Music From Manus.
Music From Manus is a 40-minute documentary by filmmaker Tim Maisey.
It centres around Barrington’s journey to Manus Island to meet the refugees and to connect with them on a musical level.
“I guess my main goal is to let the world know that they’re just innocent people; they’re real humans like me and you.”
When asked why she chose to do this through music, Barrington told The Weekender that it was the only way she could.
“I’m not a social worker and I’m not a support worker, but I was connected with the guys working on Manus Island through music,” she said.
“When I started to learn about how bad it was and how lovely the guys there were, I knew I wanted to go there and play for them.”
She got in contact with Maisey and travelled to the island in March.
After they had arrived back in Australia and Maisey had completed the film, Dawn took to showcasing their work to as many people as possible.
“I took it all over East,” she said.
“I did screenings over there and here in WA, met loads of people through it, and got an amazing response.”
Through doing something like this on such a big scale, Barrington began to realise that she was becoming a better musician.
“It’s brought a new life to my music and songwriting,” she said.
“I guess you could say it’s my purpose.”