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Jessie Lloyd is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander composer, performer, and creative entrepreneur who was in kinship care as a child. 

Jessie was born in North Queensland to Esme Lloyd and Australian Indigenous music pioneer Joe Geia. She was raised by Joe’s sister, Lynelda Tippo, in what Jessie calls a ‘cultural adoption’ 

When Jessie was a child, Lynelda accepted postings all over Australia in her role as a pastor in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Jessie lived in many places and attended twelve different schools.   

Jessie began playing musical instruments in childhood. She was first introduced to music by members of her family. Her father was not a musical influence because he was not around.  

Music and singing was always a big part of my family, but I still remember when I first started playing. I was 10 years old and living in Adelaide. My cousin, Jeremy Geia, now known as Murrumu Walubara Yidinji, taught me my first chords. Lucky for me he insisted I learn them correctly and not be slack. Murrumu’s mother, Aunty Delphine Writer (nee Geia) was also studying jazz at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) at the time, so lounge room rehearsals with different musicians were regular events (Music in Australia). 

Jessie was living in Perth when she finished school. In 2002, she completed her  qualifications at Abmusic, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Registered Training Organisation offering music courses in Perth. Jessie performed as a vocalist, guitarist, bassist and ukulele player. Tired of the “male dominant attitude” within “the church, the music scene and my Aboriginal community(Music in Australia), Jessie began a solo music career. 

Jessie’s Mission Songs Project revives the folksongs of Aboriginal Australians who were forcibly removed from their land onto state run reserves and Christian missions. The project was inspired by her paternal grandmother, Alma, who had been taken as an eight-year-old from her family in Cooke Town and sent to Palm Island. As a child, Jessie would listen as Alma told stories and sing songs about life on the mission. 

The project includes a protest song, Our Own Native Land, written by her paternal grandfather, Albie (Albert) Geia. Albie conducted the Palm Island Brass Band and was the leader of a historic strike by Aboriginal workers demanding fair wages instead of rations for their work in 1957. Because of Albie’s part in the protest, his family was exiled from Palm Island, colloquially known as Punishment Island, and he moved to Townsville in Queensland.  

Jessie has travelled throughout Australia in search of songs which cover the period of the early 1900s through to the 1960s. 

Mission Songs Project has taught me the importance of history, why we play the music that we do and why we tell the stories we tell. I’ve learned that it is important to know where you’ve come from to help guide where you need to go (Music in Australia). 

Jessie’s Ailan (island) Songs Project was released in May 2022. This album consists of “folk tunes of her people in the Torres Strait with a contemporary reimagining” (National Indigenous Times). The songs explore “the largely unknown history of industry, military, maritime, railway and missionary activity as well as children’s songs” (National Indigenous Times).  

Jessie engaged in extensive collaboration and consultation with custodians and senior Torres Strait song women for this latest project, explaining, “There’s a lot of social and cultural responsibilities around the songs that I work with,” (National Indigenous Times).  


“About Jessie LLoyd.” Mission Songs Project. 

Barclay, Paul. “Mission Songs Project.” Big Ideas, ABC Radio National, 2017 

“Inside the Musician. Jessie Lloyd: on a Mission.” Music in Australia, 2017. 

 “Jessie Lloyd.” Performing Lines.,Abmusic%20in%20Perth%20in%202002. 

“The Mission Songs Project.” Soul Search with Dr Meredith Lake, ABC Radio National, 2019. 

Cross, Jarred. Jessie Lloyd reimagines Torres Strait Islander folk music in new album.” National Indigenous Times, 24 May 2022.  

Image supplied by Jessie Lloyd.