Biography - Music From My Soul
Dallas Jon Vea Vea – also known as ‘Inky’ - was born in 1956 in Maryborough and still calls Hervey Bay home.
His indigenous cultural connections are to the ‘Spirit of Land’ people near Warra, Dalby, Jimbour, Chinchilla and western Bunya Mountains, and to the 'Undumbi' people near Glass House Mountains.
Jon also has cultural connections to Vanuatu, specifically to Walaha Passage - Nduindui on Aoba Island, to Belavoko - Pic Malo on Malo Island, and thru kustom adoption to Ambrym Island.
His Mother and two Aunties were popular local professional singers much admired for their vocal harmonies. His South Sea Islander Grandmother was famous for her garden parties. Inky as a youngster was soon expected to become part of the entertainment at these successful fundraising events.
He later joined local band Main Course and learned more about the art of live performance at pubs alongside his musically talented Cousins.
Joining the Queensland Railways, Jon traveled widely through South East and Western Queensland. He suddenly felt a strong desire to learn the guitar, like his Aboriginal Father. A fellow worker (who kept a guitar in the boot of his car) was only too happy to lend it to Jon and to teach him basic chords. Hours of dedicated practice followed...
[Photo: Jon Vea Vea viewing the Aboriginal river stories depicted on the Pinkanjinnie monument at Wallumbilla, where he lived and worked for Qld Railways.]
Jon then moved to work for Commonwealth Employment Services. He joined the Country Music scene of Bundaberg as well as gigging every weekend in a successful duo Kiwi Konnection. One highlight during this time was playing solo to a crowded stadium at a Bundy Bears Football grand finale. Another highlight was his original song ‘My Father’ being given airtime on ABC Regional Radio.
Jon's strong sense of social justice eventually saw him move into paralegal work, assisting indigenous people in Burnett Region, and then in Fraser Coast. Settling once again in his home town Hervey Bay, Jon joined Mike Knight and his Swing Trio. Here he gained confidence in 'laid-back and easy' swing jazz. Jon composed more original songs, including ‘Pain In My Heart’, 'Magic Spell', 'In My Room', 'Answers', and ‘Condamine Crying’.
Over the next decade Jon enjoyed many wonderful musical collaborations with other talented Fraser Coast musicians. These have included Hervey Bay Council for the Arts, Rinkydink, Mojo, Sounds on Sunday, The Acoustic Jabiru, Nite Groove, and Lachlan Court. He also devoted time to mentoring other musicians of all ages in aspects of live performance. He finds it very satisfying to help them discover their own strengths and become more confident performers.
However Jon did not hesitate when the opportunity came to take a job as an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Officer at Chinchilla. At last he had a chance to return to the traditional custodian lands of his Aboriginal Grandfather near Warra on the Western Darling Downs. With a renewed sense of belonging as a proud member of the Cobble Cobble clan, he composed another original song titled ‘Through My Grandfather’s Eyes’. Again it was given airtime on ABC Regional Radio.
In 2013 Jon was awarded the Fraser Coast NAIDOC 'Senior Male Community Person of the Year' for his contribution to the local community and to indigenous culture.
In 2016 Jon received a Fraser Coast NAIDOC 'Songlines Individual Award senior category' for mentoring Lilly Pilly Community Choir. He also shared the 2016 NAIDOC 'Songlines Group Award' for the initiative of promoting live music, free to the public, at a new performance venue 'Yawar' (meaning song/corroboree) in Pier Park Urangan.
In 2017 Jon premiered his first original production 'Music From My Soul' which included: ‘Final Farewell’, ‘Living The Dream’, ‘See You In The Dreamtime’, and 'Wangari Cries On K'gari. On receiving a special request for permission to base choreography on 'Wangari Cries on K'gari', Jon responded by creating a Dance Remix. This was performed for the first time by indigenous students in the 'Beach to Bush Cultural Enrichment' program at Torquay State School. By popular demand, 'Music From My Soul' was performed again on 23 September 2017 at ZPAC Theatre in Hervey Bay. This time The Acoustic Jabiru trio performed, with special guest Aboriginal dancer Aaron Henderson performing the 'Welcome Dance.'
In November 2017, Jon was selected to participate in 'By The Beach' Indigenous Music Residency. This was a precursor to him performing for the *Bleach Festival as part of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Cultural Program in April 2018. He also performed for The Big Bundy BBQ for the Royal Visit of Prince Charles to Bundaberg.
In 2018 Jon Vea Vea undertook a regional community tour performing in the Aboriginal communities of Cherbourg, Palm Island, Mungalla, Yarrabah, and Hopevale, as well as Cooktown, Charters Towers, Maryborough and Gin Gin. This project was supported by the Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland. Whilst on tour he recorded two new originals: 'Always Somebody's Fool' and 'As Long As You Stay In Your Place'.
In 2019 he delivered a moving Local Legends talk titled 'Family Blong Mi Kanaka' which gave intimate insight into the suffering and resilience of his Grandmother's South Sea Islander ancestry. He was honoured as a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation "in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world." And he was made patron of the Cool Country Music Club.
In 2020, Jon Vea Vea was chosen as one of fourteen Songwriter Sustainability recipients. In 2021, he received 'Heal Country' Community Person of the Year award from Fraser Coast NAIDOC. Then in 2022, Jon was surprised and humbled to be an Australia Day Cultural Award nominee for Fraser Coast.
Jon is currently working on his next cultural production 'Spirit of The Land.' And so the journey continues . . .
As a songwriter/composer, Jon is a member of the Australasian Performing Rights Association Ltd (APRA).
'Inside My Room' Lyrics and music by Jon Vea Vea Recorded at Walaha Studio 2008