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Dr Lou Bennett: 2021 Red Ochre Award For Lifetime Achievement



Dr Lou Bennett is one of the finest, most creative, experienced, progressive, and accomplished Aboriginal composers of our time. Lou is also an incredible performer and artistic director.

As well as her own performances and collaborations, Lou has become a mentor to now internationally acclaimed vocalists Deline Briscoe, Emma Donovan, Ursula Yovich, Leah Flanagan, Mindy Kwonton, Dan Sultan and Eric Avery.

Lou’s work was part of the pioneering Tiddas trio from 1990. In 2003 she  started with the Tony Briggs Theatre production as a composer, singer and actor. Lou was Assistant Musical Director for the original theatre production, The Sapphires, where she was also vocal coach for the lead actors, guiding them through exercises and songs to strengthen their voices.

For the film, Lou translated much of the script into Yorta Yorta, and taught the actors to speak and sing in Yorta Yorta.

Lou was a member of Black Arm Band from its very inception. During the 10 years of the company’s existence, Lou was a Performer, Composer, Vocal Supervisor and Artistic Director. Lou worked with Iain Grandage to create some of DIRTSONG’s most evocative compositions.

Lou, or Dr. Bennett, completed her PhD in 2015. It is titled ‘Lotjpa Yorta Yorta! Retrieving, Reclaiming and Regenerating Aboriginal Language and Culture through the Arts’. She continues that work as an artistic director and research fellow.

In 2018 Tiddas joined Archie Roach at to perform the collaborative album, Dancing With My Spirit. Much of the strength of Lou’s artistic journey is the way in which cultural protocols are intricately embedded in her practice, especially when engaging with community.


Learn more about the First Nations Arts Awards 2021 recipients .