Tassie songwriter emerges to promote Aust tourism
06/07/2012 - When a new commercial promoting Australian tourism was launched last month featuring the music of Dewayne Everettsmith, the question most were left asking was: "Who the bloody hell is he?" David Beniuk
There was no Lara Bingle-like celebrity this time - Everettsmith didn't even make the top 40 in his crack at Australian Idol in 2007.
He's still a relative unknown, despite more than 16 million downloads of his song It's Like Love, which backs a Tourism Australia ad first released in China.
But he's less unknown among the Tasmanian Aboriginal - or Palawa - community.
Everettsmith, who will perform at the national NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) awards in Hobart on Friday night, is descended from the chief Mangana.
With his daughter Truganini, he negotiated his people's relocation to Flinders Island.
Everettsmith made the first commercial recording in the Tasmanian Aboriginal language, Palawa Kani, last year with his song Milaythina.
And he is a member of the prestigious Black Arm band, a supergroup of Aboriginal stars who will perform at a London Olympics festival in the coming weeks.
"I think it's really paid off," he says of the Tourism Australia gig.
"Not many people get their song on a Tourism Australia ad and free publicity for at least two years.
"I haven't even released my debut album yet."
The song was co-written with American classical musician Jasmine Beams but it's Everettsmith's sweet, soulful vocal that steals it.
"They wanted this beautiful song to promote Australia and so did I, but I wanted a beautiful song that meant more to people," he tells reporters.
"That you could come here and feel an attachment to it.
"It's a song to let take you for that three minutes and be at peace."
With the ad being released in more countries around the world, Everettsmith's days as part-time Aboriginal health worker appear numbered.
The 24-year-old father of three says he is putting something back into his community, but his own life before his big breakthrough was a long way from pop-stardom.
Everettsmith was adopted by another Aboriginal family as a young child when his mother became addicted to speed and alcohol.
He lost touch with her and then lost her altogether three years ago to a drug overdose.
"She was coming back to make amends literally that week and, no, she passed away," he says.
"Because I was so angry with my mother she'd call me and I wouldn't answer, I'd just ignore it.
"I wish I made amends but it's one of those hurtful things."
His debut album, produced by Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu's collaborator Michael Honen and due out by the end of the year, will reflect on those emotions.
"The album is pretty much my life right up to this point," he says.
"Once I get that out of the way maybe I can get rid of some of that really sad, emotional stuff and start writing stuff I really like that gets people dancing."
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