The Appeal’s Ambassadors are our champions in the community, taking our message with them on their travels. They support us with publicity, profiles and fundraising events wherever they can, each offering their own unique take on getting the news out about the plight of the Tasmanian devil.
Starred in a Tourism Australia video, receiving over 560,000 hits on Youtube. Performed a private show for Oprah Winfrey’s girlfriend, Gayle King, and Oprah’s famous “Road Trippers”.
Supported artists of the calibre of Archie Roach, John Farnham and Guy Sebastian. Wowed audiences in two shows with the prestigious Black Arm Band - upstaging Paul Kelly in a duet during the Melbourne International Arts Festival – and performed in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York as part of G’Day USA.
The wish list or daydreams of an aspiring Australian singer? Maybe, they’re certainly big enough dreams. But, they’re also just some of the highlights of Dewayne’s career over the last two years.
And he’s done all of this without putting out an album, without any of the promotion and hype accompanying a debut release.
It’s not surprising, though. From his childhood appearances within his own Tasmanian Aboriginal community, through many festival stages around Australia and across the Pacific, his audition for Australian Idol, one thing has become very clear – Dewayne’s a very special performer.
But, it’s not just his amazing voice. He’s also one of those rare performers with a gift, a presence. Untutored in stagecraft, Dewayne tells his story, sings to a crowded room, and most individuals listening feel he’s singing just for them. He can’t explain it and he’s not consciously trying to use it; it’s just there, it’s just him.
He’s an Aboriginal man, descended from both the Aboriginal community of Cape Barren Island and the Gunai/Kurnai people of Victoria, but his music can’t be neatly pigeonholed as Indigenous. It’s been influenced by his heritage, then shaped by his tough early years and his love of so many musical styles and great singers.
Dewayne’s just twenty-three, barely begun his journey and his debut album won’t be available for another few months. Yet, he’s already gaining recognition as someone special – he’s just been appointed, along with Jon English, to the role of ambassador for the government’s official Save the Tasmanian Devil Fund.
You’d be safe in assuming Dewayne will be part of your life for years to come and that his gift will take him to the world in the not-too-distant future. There’s just so much more to come.
Listen to Dewayne singing "feels so right".
Download the audio file
Aside from being a much-loved theatre, stage, television and rock music performer, Jon English has written film and television scores, soundtracks and his own catalogue of songs.
Jon became involved with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal after learning about the plight of the Tassie Devil which is endangered. He was shocked to think we may lose another Australian species.
“And you know, they are at far greater risk than koalas – they just don’t look as cute and cuddly so they don’t attract the same attention.
“The problem that is wiping out the Tassie devils is a contagious cancer. It’s fatal and it causes facial tumours around their mouths and on their faces. It’s truly dreadful and is spread through the devils’ bite.
“The (Save the Tasmanian Devil) program is having some success with free-range enclosures and breeding programs. The devils are free to roam the large tracts of bushland and are breeding in the wild. And so far these devils have remained disease-free. So I’m really passionate about helping the cause.”
The Rock Show is his latest production which stars himself along with a nine-piece troupe of multi-talented musicians and singers. The Rock Show takes the audience on a spectacular journey through the music of the 1960s and 70s. It covers two decades of classic rock music with songs from artists including: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Queen, Elton John, David Bowie and so many more.
He has been working on this show for two-and-a-half years and the audience reaction is always fantastic. People come along to see it, not really knowing what to expect, but they invariably leave saying they are just blown away by the world-class young talent on stage.
Jon plans to return to the stage in 2012 in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar in his latest effort to help the Tassie Devil. “Next year I will make a guest appearance as Pontius Pilate in a Launceston production of Jesus Christ Superstar. The money raised will go to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal,” he said. Jon says he was looking forward to performing in the musical that kick-started his career. “I’m too old to play the part of Judas these days,” he said, “but I can pull off a good Pontius Pilate.”
To find out more about The Rock Show, visit: http://www.therockshow.com.au/
Photograph of Jon English courtesy of Trowunna Wildlife Park.