Ziggy Ramo has hit out at Joondalup City Council after it booked the Indigenous rapper and activist for a free outdoor event in Perth, later issuing an apology for his “language and comments”.

Ramo performed at Mawson Park in the suburb of Hillarys on Saturday (January 14) as part of the free all-ages Music in the Park series organized by the City of Joondalup. On their websitereferred to Ramo as an “indigenous Australian singer, songwriter and activist” with “powerful and poignant lyricism”.

But on Monday (January 15), Joondalup Municipality shared a statement on its Facebook page apologizing to those who had a “negative experience” at the public event. “We know that many in the audience were offended by the language used and comments made during one of tonight’s performances,” it continued.

“We will review the event and the feedback we have received and consider it carefully when planning future events. Music in the Park has earned a solid reputation over the years as one of the city’s most beloved family-friendly events,” the statement added. “The city strives to offer diverse cultural performances and we want to ensure that we continue to present respectful acts that our community will appreciate and enjoy.”

Music in the park – Statement Joondalup Municipality apologizes unreservedly to anyone who had a negative experience at…

Posted by City of Joondalup on Saturday 14 January 2023

Ramo has since criticized the local council, saying they were aware of his lyrics beforehand and that he removed foul language from his songs during the performance. See you on ABC Radio Perth this morning (and for a bit of ABC), Ramo said he initially believed the City of Joondalup had “made a conscious decision to give their community this opportunity to think and learn and engage with” the kinds of themes present in his material.

“I’m not naive. Even when you remove the curse words, the subject matter is very explicit. It’s about genocide. It’s about oppression. It’s about violence,” he said. “It’s deeply uncomfortable for people who may not have struggled with their own privileges, but it asks people to wrestle with what is our understanding and our experience.”

Ramo went on to say that since the event he has had “no communication” with the City of Joondalup and that the public apology was shared without contacting the rapper beforehand. He questioned the wording of the apology – that people were “offended by the language used” – and pointed out that there was no profanity in his performance.

“So what part of me told my lived experience was so offensive that it warranted an apology?” Ramo told ABC. “If I’m not cursing, but I’m just talking about our history.” He also criticized the latter half of the apology, where Joondalup Municipality said it “strives to offer diverse cultural performances”.

“It just feels pretty backwards,” Ramo said. “It’s like, diverse cultural performances, that means you want different points of view, but you say, ‘We’re only going to strive to offer diverse cultural performances that our community agrees with.’

“If you want me to go up there and look black but not be black, how does that work? The fact that I look and am culturally different comes with completely different experiences than the majority of your community. So if you put me on that stage and you want to celebrate cultural diversity, that’s what cultural diversity is.”

Ramo added that the council had “every single one of [his] texts printed in advance”. He also pointed out that the event was free, held in a public park, and that he was described as an activist in promotional materials leading up to the concert.

“It was literally advertised as Ziggy Ramo, singer-songwriter, Native activist, talking about Native issues from the Native perspective. If you got to that performance and you were surprised by what happened, I don’t understand how that falls on me, because it wasn’t like I assaulted anyone.”

Ramo concluded by saying it was “deeply disappointing” that Joondalup Municipality had not responded to people’s discomfort by asking them to engage with why they felt uncomfortable.

“We just swept it under the rug and kept the status quo,” Ramo said. “I’m just trying to do what I’d hoped Joondalup Municipality would have done, and that was to engage in an actual meaningful conversation.”

Back in 2020, Ramo performed his song ‘Stand For Something’ on the ABC panel show Q+A. During the episode, he revealed that his original song choice had been ’25. April’, from his debut album ‘Black Thoughts’.

Ramo said he had been told by the broadcaster that the song was “not appropriate” and suggested his invitation to the show was “performative”. “I, sitting on this panel, tick the ABC, which is cultural diversity, but if I’m not able to express my perspective, is that performative? Or is it really cultural diversity?” he said.

Since the release of ‘Black Thoughts’, Ramo has performed tracks from the album live in a variety of settings. It included in 2021 on the Sydney Opera House forecourt as part of an Indigenous-led and culturally diverse music exhibition called Barrabuwari. The following month, he performed the song standing on top of the Opera House in the video for his song ‘Little Things’, a reworking of Paul Kelly’s ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’.

Earlier this month, Ramo made his television debut in the Stan Original series Black snow. Last month he shared a song recorded for the series, ‘Sugar Coated Lies’, with Wegaia/Wemba Wemba singer Alice Skye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *