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Christine Anu

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Christine Anu is Australia's premier urban-style pop singer. She was born in 1970 in Cairns, Queensland. Her mother's people were from Saibai Island, just off the south coast of Papua New Guinea. Her father came from Mabuiag Island, closer to the center of Torres Strait. The family had found its way to Queensland decades earlier. Christine Anu's connection with her family heritage was the times her father pulled out his guitar, put down the mats on the veranda of the family home, and encouraged a family singalong, singing island songs. Otherwise, Christine Anu grew up like any other child in Cairns. She watched television and longed to sing on TV. But it was as a dancer that Anu first came to prominence. Studying dance meant a move away from her family in Cairns to inner-city Sydney. Her singing career started as a backup vocalist for songwriter Neil Murray's group the Rainmakers for a year. Australian Murray had formed and spent years with the seminal aboriginal rock group, the Warumpi Band. In December, 1973, she fronted a dance-oriented remake of Paul Kelly's "Last Train" for her first single. Paul Kelly sang backing vocals. Her second single, "Monkey and the Turtle," mixed urban dance sounds with a traditional islander fable she had an uncle translate. Her version of Neil Murray's Warumpi Band "My Island Home" -- the song which has come Anu's trademark -- was released three months later, as a prelude to the release of the May, 1995, album Stylin' Up, produced by Not Drowning Waving's David Bridie. The single won Neil Murray a Song of the Year Award. The album cast Anu in an urban pop diva role and gave her her first hit with the dancefloor celebrating "Party." Promoting her album, the singer/dancer found herself becoming a role model and spokesperson for Australia's aboriginal people. It was another five years before Christine Anu released her second album. She needed a change of pace and found it in 1997 by taking the coveted lead role in the smash hit musical Rent, but then turned down the chance to reprise the role on Broadway to play Arabia an exotic dancer in Baz Luhrmann's film Moulin Rouge. The second album, Come on Down, again with contributions from Paul Kelly and David Bridie, built on the dance orientation of the first while at the same time taking her into the mainstream pop arena. For her performances during the 2000 Sydney Olympics ceremonies, she chose to reprise "My Island Home," a new version of which appeared on the new album. ~ Ed Nimmervoll

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