First Nations Artist in Residence

The Melbourne International Jazz Festival together with the Australian Art Orchestra are incredibly excited to announce award-winning musician, dancer, director and proud Djab Wurrung/Gunditj Mara and Ngarrindjeri man, Amos Roach, as our inaugural First Nations Artist in Residence in 2021.




This program is supported by  



and delivered in partnership with the Australian Art Orchestra.


Amos says of the announcement:

“To be selected as the inaugural First Nations Artist in Residence at Melbourne International Jazz Festival and the Australian Arts Orchestra is an exciting honour and privilege.

“To normalise the use of Traditional First Nations instruments in the general community adds to the sense of confidence to practice Culture openly and publicly. This is a profound shift in the dynamic between First Nations people and the general community, given the oppression and suppression of Cultural practices that has occurred here for so long.”


Amos has been playing keyboard, guitar, bass and Yidaki since he was eight, and is acknowledged as one of Australia’s best Yidaki players. A cultural practitioner, traditional First Nations culture informs the fundamentals of his craft. Amos’ music is part of the songline that connects people and Country. He uses traditional instruments, songs, music and dance to tell stories of Songlines, Family and Country and aims to bring traditional instruments into the mainstream canon.

As a musician, Amos has regularly performed with a host of bands and artists like Sandy Evans, Black Magic, No Fixed Address and with father, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter and the Roach Family Band.  Amos also curates his own events showcasing First Nations performers, and is Director of dance troupe Murrundaya Yepengna.

An equally talented dancer and choreographer, Amos is the director of the award-winning ‘Neon Ngargee’, and ongoing project with the Murrundaya Yepengna that uses neon colour, ochre and black lights in a celebration of Kulin Nations dance and songs.

We look forward to sharing more of Amos’ journey with you as the year unfolds, and to the premiere of his new work during the Festival in October.


About the program

Presented in a partnership between The Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) and the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO), The First Nations Artist in Residence Program is a new artistic professional development initiative that supports the career development of an emerging to mid-career First Nations musician with a practice in jazz, improvisation or contemporary art music and its composition.

The successful candidate will receive: 

  • A $5,000 cash bursary from MIJF to support the development of a new work
  • A major festival performance outcome at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival 2021, including an additional performance fee
  • A paid part-time position with the Australian Art Orchestra (August – October, 4 EFT, $50,000 pro rata)
  • A personalised professional development program with AAO, based on the experience, needs and aspirations of the artist in residence.
  • Participation in the AAO’s Creative Music Intensive, a 10-day annual residency held in Tarraleah, Tasmania (October 10-20), including flights and accommodation
  • Producing support from MIJF staff to develop and present the work
  • Ticketing package for MIJF 2021 and artistic/industry networking opportunities


Melbourne International Jazz Festival and the Australian Art Orchestra respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which our festival and activities take place, the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present, as well as to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the wider Melbourne community and beyond. We are honoured to contribute to the over 60,000 years of music making and story telling that has taken place on this land.