Naarah Barnes is more than just a music student – she’s also a teacher and mentor, award-winning singer, and professional theatre performer.
For Naarah, going to university wasn’t just about her achieving great things for herself, it was also about positive influence.
“As an Aboriginal person, I really want to push for higher education within Aboriginal people,” she explains.
Going to university was an opportunity to bump up our statistics of Aboriginal people continuing on through high school and college. I wanted to be a role model for other Aboriginal students coming through.
In addition to inspiring the indigenous community, Naarah’s also been a passionate advocate for bringing music to disadvantaged students.
“Through the University of Tasmania, I got a really great teaching job at Jordan River Learning Federation,” says Naarah.
“It’s really cool to get out there and run choirs for them and get some music into their primary schools.”
“I love teaching them, they’re the highlight of my week.”
In between these commitments and studying music, Naarah’s also found time to let her own vocal talents shine.
She’s featured in musicals – including Mary Poppins, Theory of Relativity and We Will Rock You – sung regularly out at Mona, and studied aboard at the University of Southampton, where she starred in Legally Blonde and Alphabet Soup.
“I love singing to people live in front of me – an audience just right there listening to exactly what I want to tell them,” says Naarah.
Music for me is storytelling which is where a lot of my music and performance comes from. I’ve probably had this passed down through my Aboriginal culture and personal history. It’s a big part of who I am and why I’m in musical theatre.
Most recently, Naarah was awarded the Ossa Musical Performance Prize, funded entirely by an anonymous alumnus of the University. The prize allows Naarah to stage a musical theatre production with dates all around Tasmania.
“It was really hard to win the prize,” reflects Naarah.
“I was up against some really incredible violinists, trumpet and flute players – they were all just amazing.”
“I just couldn’t believe it when I won.”