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Nathan May talks on 3KND on his Life and Love for his Music.

Updated: May 19, 2023

Nathan May is an Arabana , Yawuru and Marridjabin man living on Kaurna country with his young family. He has been developing his talent since the age of three, when he began playing drums at church in Darwin. Nathan has gone on to play drums with Marlon x Rulla 2020-22 including Womadelaide 2021 and Emily Wurramara 2022-present including Bluesfest Byron 2022.

Nathan says: “As a kid I loved music, fishing and playing AFL footy, but I didn’t do well at school until my teachers recommended a community studies course. I did that through the Clontarf Foundation, which helps indigenous kids finish school and gain employment. I caught up quickly thanks to my mentors, AFL footballer Michael Mclean and my teacher Judith O’Hearn, who was a Paralympic gold medalist. They would stay back with me until 8 or 9pm finishing off all my work” A pivotal moment in Nathan’s life was meeting Barack Obama in 2011.

“We went to see Barack in Darwin and my teacher Judith pushed us right up to the front. I snuck into a gap and started singing out ‘Barack, Barack’ and he came over to us. He asked me what I wanted to do when I finished school and I said, ‘I don’t know’. Then he said, “You can do and be whatever you want to”. Those few words changed my whole life. “ Following this meeting Nathan decided to leave Darwin and pursue music.

He was accepted at the Adelaide Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music which has an entry program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at the Elder Conservatorium in 2012.

Nathan completed a three-year course at CASM to attain an advanced Diploma in Aboriginal Music, and he is in the final year of a bachelor’s degree in popular music at the Elder Conservatorium.

One of Adelaide’s hardest working live performers, in 2019, Nathan performed 80 live performances locally, including a showcase at the Adelaide Fringe “Garden Sessions” that has led to his own solo show, Lost in The Dream, at the 2020 Adelaide Fringe.

In early 2020 Nathan started working with Producer James Gillard. This led to a co-writing session with seasoned wordsmith Colin Buchanan on the Bluegrass flavoured “FIX IT UP” single released in September 2022. The song was included on the Prestigious Grass Roots Playlist. Further co-writing with Multi Golden Guitar Winner Luke O’Shea yielded his newest release “IT’S GOTTA START SOMEWHERE”.

Both songs were recorded at Music Cellar Studios on the NSW Central Coast using a band that includes stellar, multi-Instrumentalist Rod McCormack, Drummer Scott Hills, and James Gillard on bass. He is inspired to regularly give back to his community. In recognition of the support he has received from mentors in his own life and career, he designs and delivers mentorship programs to young Aboriginal children through the Culture is Life suicide prevention program, Generation of Change program through Reconciliation SA, and school holiday music programs in Marree, Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta.

Nathan May brings his own experiences and his story of hope through music to Aboriginal children who have experienced trauma and violence.


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