This exciting premiere brings together two powerful forces in Australian music – pianist, composer and MIJF Artist in Residence Paul Grabowsky AO, and acclaimed soul vocalist Emma Donovan.

Donovan is best known for her work with The Putbacks and The Black Arm Band – as well as touring and recording alongside legends such as Archie Roach, Yothu Yindi and Paul Kelly – and her voice carries within it many deep currents. Her family hail from both sides of the continent, and her many musical influences reflect her early experiences singing country, as well as the rich legacy of soul music which she conveys so powerfully.

In The Old Rugged Cross, these two acclaimed artists will be joined by a powerful collection of Melbourne’s finest jazz musicians in exploring another side of Donovan’s early influences: the gospel and hymn tunes she grew up with in communities. Alongside the title track, this performance will feature songs made famous by artists like Aretha Franklin and Johnny Cash, including ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’ – as well as songs written by Donovan’s own grandfather, Micko Donovan.

This special collaboration promises to deliver a joyful celebration of soul, country and gospel sounds – all given the Grabowsky treatment.

Sign up to Festival e-news