Small Island, Big Song events, Feb. 29 to March 2, 2024

The BU Arts Initiative is excited to bring Small Island, Big Song to Boston University. This exciting residency will explore the cultural connections of the vast ocean through the Austronesian migration. 

Artist Residency: February 29 – March 2,2024

The following Residency Events are free and open to the public:

Our Shared Seafaring Heritage, Alive in Rhythm and Song

Thursday, February 29th, 6-7:30 pm | Howard Thurman Center Event Space, 808 Commonwealth Ave.

During the first segment of this lecture demonstration, presenters will set the stage with geographical and historical background about these great oceanic migrations. The second segment will consist of conversation and musical demonstrations by Small Island Big Song artists to showcase some of the cultural similarities their communities share across these vast ocean expanses. (Register here).


First Friday: Cooking Poulet Fafa – A Traditional Meal with Local Twists

Friday, March 1st, 3-6 pm | Demonstration Room 124, 808 Commonwealth Ave.

One of the most ancient human activities is cooking and sharing a meal. Through the time spent gathering ingredients and preparing the meal, conversations, and stories can erupt into laughter and song. It is such a natural activity that bonds people to one another and their natural environment. Together with Small Island Big Song artists, students will share in this process as we make a traditional dish of Tahiti (French Polynesia) called Poulet Fafa. (Register here).


Small Island Big Song Concert

Saturday, March 2nd, 3-5pm. Tsai Performance Center 685 Commonwealth Ave.

Small Island Big Song is a music, film and performing arts project uniting the islands of the Pacific and Indian Ocean through artistic collaboration, a contemporary and relevant musical statement from a region that shares an ancient seafaring heritage and the impact of our changing sea. (Register here)

Co-founder Bios:

Tim Cole – Australia | Director, Music producer, filmmaker

Cole is an Australian music producer and filmmaker who’s passionate about cross-cultural arts projects. He has produced numerous albums, films and concerts for Australian aboriginal, Torres Strait islander and Pacifica artists including Archie Roach, Telek, and Shellie Morris. He has also toured internationally with Circus Oz for 8 years as theater and sound designer with seasons on Broadway NYC & West End London. He was a senior music producer at CAAMA – Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association before beginning Small Island Big Song. Cole has received a Churchill fellowship and invitations to speak at the United Nations HQ, APAP NYC, and WOMEX.

BaoBao Chen – Taiwan | Producer, Manager 

Having produced and managed Small Island Big Song’s two multimedia concert productions, two award-winning albums, documentary, as well as curating world tours across 18 countries in Europe, the USA, Asia and Oceania, BaoBao is one of Taiwan’s most prominent producers of cross-cultural arts projects and an ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) fellow 2023-25. A vivid storyteller and fluent in English and Mandarin, she has a social media following of 130K+, and has been invited to speak at TEDx, WOMEX, APAP NYC, Stanford Live, and numerous arts festivals.

Artist Bios:

Emlyn – Creole heritage, Mauritius | Songwriter & Performer

Featured on CNN, Emlyn is leading a wave of performers across the Indian Ocean proudly reclaiming their unique rhythms and cultural mix. Written with a reactive pen and sung in Mauritian Creole, her songs express her concerns for her island’s environment. Emlyn brings the infectious grooves of Sega with the sounds of her traditional frame drum, Ravann, which originated from the rhythms of African/Madagascan people during the slave trade.

SIBS fell in love with Sega music during their field trips to Mauritius in 2016 and 2017, and was finally collaborating with Emlyn in 2020. She has been part of the album since and never misses a show! 

Songwriter & Performer | Putad – Amis heritage, Taiwan

Powerful, entrancing, unapologetic all words used to describe Putad’s engaging stage presence. In the proud spirit of her indigenous Amis heritage, Putad unites ancient vocal traditions with raw energy of grunge, rock and punk, as her and her brothers Wusang and Linken’s band Outlet Drift express. In the SIBS ensemble, she brings this energy, her soaring voice, rock bass along with her coastal Amis ancestry and love for the ocean! 

SIBS met Putad through an online project Global Music Match in 2020. She has since become one of the feature artists on the album ‘Our Island’ and its tours across four continents.

Songwriter & Performer | Sammy – Merina heritage, Madagascar

Sammy followed his passion for Madagascar’s musical heritage by mastering and learning how to make most of Madagascar’s instruments. His efforts came to the notice of the UK’s world music scene as his band ‘Tarika Sammy’ gained international recognition, becoming a regular on major festival stages and being acknowledged as one of the world’s “Best Ten Bands”, alongside U2, by TIME Magazine. 

SIBS met Sammy at his house during their inspiring field trips to Madagascar in 2016 & 2017. He’s featured in both albums and concert tours around the world since 2018.

Songwriter & Performer | Aremistic – Tahitian heritage, Tahiti (French Polynesia) 

Like the lively uplifting Tahitian rhythm he was named after, Aremistic’s music could have only come from one island, Tahiti. A natural fusion of the island’s cultural mix grounded in his Tahitian heritage, Aremistic’s songs and performances integrate traditional Polynesian instruments and rhythms with reggae, hip-hop, rock, folk and pop sensibilities, often sung in Tahitian, French & English in one song. His recent performances at Aotearoa/New Zealand’s ‘Pasifika festival’ and in Europe and the USA expanded his reputation as a voice for the Pacific Ocean.

Songwriter & Performer | Yuma Pawang – Atayal heritage, Taiwan

Yuma, a member of the Atayal tribe of Taiwan, is a multidisciplinary artist expressing her thoughts on “Atayal,” cultural preservation, transformation, essence, and social equity in film, music, painting and performance. With Taiwan’s respected Minang performance group, she was invited by Indigenous nations of Northern Europe for a cultural exchange. This experience along with studying film performance made her aware of the significance of cultural practice in the context of Atayal life, where written language was historically limited. SIBS first met Yuma as a special guest for a SIBS concert in Taiwan in 2023, and she is now part of the family.

Songwriter & Performer | Airileke Ingram – Motu heritage, Papua New Guinea

Airileke grew up between the shores of both PNG and the Top End, Australia. Airileke is a musical pioneer and a sonic fighter for freedom traversing a timeless sonic globe without frontiers. He is a percussionist, producer, composer, activist, and, in the words of Britain’s Songlines magazine, “cause for celebration”. Airileke is a master drummer with one foot in the world of traditional drumming of Melanesia and his other in the modern world of beat production and hip-hop. 

Tim and Airileke have been long-time collaborators; they met up again during SIBS’s field trip to Papua New Guinea in 2016. His driving beats are featured in both SIBS albums.

Songwriter & Performer | Mea Joy Ingram – Motu heritage, Papua New Guinea & Australia

Mea comes from a long line of drummers and dancers. She was taught by her father, master percussionist Airileke Ingram in the tradition of Manus Garamut, Cook Island Pate, and Gabagaba Motu Mavaru. The Garamut drumming of PNG was traditionally an artform dominated by men, however Mea, having just turned 18, represents the new generation of female log drummers emerging from Oceania. 

Choreographer & Performer | Mathieu Joseph – Creole heritage, Mauritius

Mathieu has been a professional dancer and choreographer since the age of 14 when he was discovered breakdancing on the suburban streets of Port Louis, Mauritius by renowned choreographer Stephen Bongarçon. Quickly embedding himself in Bongarçon’s SRDance, his dedication earned him the gold medal for dance at “Les Jeux de la Francophonie” in 2009. Leading to a succession of shows and companies, including choreographing “Di Sel”, a tribute to the salt workers of Mauritius which won the “Les Jeux de la Francophonie” in France in 2017.