Whatchamacallit Episode 3: Rhyan Clapham (aka Dobby)

An Aboriginal experience up close and personal is unlike anything you have experienced, but before you pack your bags to plant your feet in the desert sands or take the plunge in the clear blue waters of our coastline. Join the Welcome to Country community and take a front seat as we feature some of our most loved artists, change-makers and cultural connoisseurs. We find out what makes them tick and why they are so driven.

Name: Rhyan Clapham (aka Dobby)  |   Occupation: Musician, Composer, Hip Hop Performer, Pianist and Drummer |    Nation: Murrawarri Republic.  |   Date: 14 December 2021   

Rhyan Clapham comes from the world’s first engineers and stone masons, whose knowledge of physics and water ecology is profound.   Brewarrina is on Ngemba homelands and known world-wide for the complex stone arrangements developed thousands and thousands of years ago, to trap fish during seasonal migration, along the Barwon River.

It’s a birthright he is proud of, the Murrawarri territories straddle the border of the states of New South Wale and Queensland.

Rhyan is a recipient of the Peter Sculthorpe Music Fellowship and has composed Pitara Yaan Muruwarikiand a new chamber music offering. For Ryhan it’s also about language reclamation in the music. His work across many genres of music has seen him deemed as one of the new wave of Aboriginal creatives.

He was regarded as a child prodigy with his classical musical talent, touring to the States as a 14-year-old. A year later he had written a rap anthem that inspired disaffected youth and combated racism.  Calling himself Dobby on stage, by day he was the first Indigenous student to complete a Bachelor of Music at the University of NSW, and Honours in Indigenous Studies. An academic tutor at UNSW he also has his own radio show on FBI.

For Rhyan it’s more than the music or the lyrics, for him it’s what we do after the song has finished.  I Can’t Breathe was written in response to Dunghutti man David Dungay Jr and George Floyd deaths. For both men these were the last words they uttered before they met death.  The song explores the Black Lives Matter Movement through a First Nations lens. The song and accompanying resources allow students to explore text that links to Australian history as well as our contemporary socio-political narrative.

Join us on Whatchamacallit and hear more about the Murrawarri, who continue to pass on the sky story of their ancestral spirits who reside in the sky until they return on the falling star.

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