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A global musical journey for Southern Cross University student


Jessica Nelson
1 May 2019

If there’s anyone who understands the journey concept it’s Southern Cross University music student Tom Mwanza.

Born and raised in Zambia, Tom’s earliest memories are about a home full of music – a dad who played guitar and a mum who sang in the church choir. It was no surprise he grew to become an accomplished singer and pianist.

As Tom moved to South Africa and later across the Indian Ocean to Australia, it was music that always connected him back to his homeland.

“In Zambia there are 93 tribes and each tribe has a totally different rhythm to one another,” he said.

“When I hear music or a drumbeat, I know which tribe would use that rhythm. There is such a musical richness in Zambia which gave me such a broad understanding of music and place.

“Now when I am writing music I have to decide what rhythm I want to put in my songs, because when put together these songs become a journey – not only through the tribes of Zambia and Africa, but through Latin America and Europe. The roots of blues, jazz and even rumba and hip hop are from those ancient African beats.”

A charismatic performer, Tom toured Africa as part of a gospel band, then in Australia joined award-winning Gold Coast band Blues Corp, playing festivals, awards ceremonies and touring the east coast. He released an Afro hip-hop and dance music album entitled 'Full speed' under the stage name T-LARMON, which he says stands for ‘time, love and rhythm, melody on notes.’

It was in 2017 Tom that decided to enrol in the Bachelor of Contemporary Music at Southern Cross University Lismore campus, the first in Australia to offer a popular music course. The University is the birthplace for bands such as Grinspoon and 2017 Triple J Unearthed Splendour winners WHARVES, as well as US Country Music #1 hit songwriter Phil Barton and production engineer Josh Blair, who was a joint Grammy Award winner for Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk.

“I think the secret to creating a good album is taking the listener on a journey, with emotion, communication and the highs and lows capturing your attention as you listen through it,” Tom said.

“People want to connect to the story, with lyrics that speak to what they’re going through or a message that communicates to the heart. A good album definitely needs to have a place where it’s coming from and a place where it’s going.”

Southern Cross University is sponsoring the Best New Release category at the 2019 Gold Coast Music Awards on 2 May.

Bachelor of Contemporary Music course coordinator Dr Matt Hill said Southern Cross University was a huge supporter of the Gold Coast music scene, with exciting things on the horizon.

“We’re excited to be supporting the iconic Gold Coast Music Awards and celebrating new music,” he said.

Dr Hill plays keys in Byron Bay band amphibian who released their latest album in 2017 on vinyl and digital format.

The three-year Bachelor of Contemporary Music in Lismore, taught by industry professionals in state-of-the-art facilities, prepares students for a multi-faceted career in music.

Students can build a portfolio while immersing themselves in the rich local music scene, including major events such as Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, Mullum Music Festival and Bello Winter Fest while attending exclusive APRA AMCOS Songwriters’ Workshops on campus. Southern Cross University also offers a Bachelor of Art and Design and a Bachelor of Digital Media and Communications.

Applications are now open for mid-year study.

This story originally appeared on 20/04/2019 in Blank GC.