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Now & Forever: Barnesy, Mo'Ju, Baker Boy say 'yes'

Rudi Maxwell -

When rapper Briggs decided it was time to put on a gig in support of a First Nations voice to parliament, there was no shortage of big names happy to say 'yes' - in part because he asked Paul Kelly first and shamelessly leveraged his name.

Jimmy Barnes, Baker Boy, Emma Donovan, Hilltop Hoods, Mo'Ju and Barkaa are joining A.B. Original (Briggs and Trials) and Kelly for Now & Forever 2023, an all-ages, alcohol-free show at the Shepparton Showgrounds in northern Victoria on Friday, October 6.

"This is all-inclusive, representing artists standing side by side in solidarity with Blackfellas," Briggs told AAP.

"We're setting an example of what we'd like to see and what our vision is.

"If you're a 'no' voter, come down and check it out, if you're undecided, come down and check it out.

"If you don't know, come to the show."

Briggs, a Yorta Yorta man who started his own record label Bad Apples, wants to bring joy to the conversation on the referendum which will be held on October 14.

"I hadn't seen a concert so I took it upon myself to string something together with some spectacular artists and juggernauts of the industry," he said.

"We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to write our future together, and the artists on the bill have signed up for that.

"This is about celebration, inclusivity, solidarity, positivity and listening, as much as it is about a voice."

It mattered to Briggs - who named his second album 'Sheplife' in honour of his hometown - to stage the concert in a regional area.

"I had to bring this home because this is where I grew up," he said.

"We're down in the polls now and I'm going 150 per cent."

Briggs said he understands the voice won't fix disadvantage overnight.

"But we already live in 'no'," he said.

"I'd rather work towards mending the fractured relationship that Indigenous Australia has with the rest of the country."

Now & Forever 2023 has already garnered widespread support from First Nations leaders, the live music industry, and the local community, Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson says.

"On behalf of our live music and entertainment industry, we're proud to stand alongside our artists who are stepping up and speaking out in support of 'yes' and the opportunity for Australians to come together to recognise our First Nations people, to listen, and walk together to create a better future," she said.

Earlier in September the 'yes' campaign put on a series of free gigs as part of a national weekend of action, with the line-up including Midnight Oil, Spiderbait, Bernard Fanning, Dan Sultan and John Butler.

Paul Kelly has written a song, If Not Now, for the cause and John Farnham gifted his famous anthem You're the Voice to the 'yes' campaign.

Even American rapper MC Hammer tweeted his support and a link to Kelly playing his famous anthem From Little Things Big Things Grow with Aboriginal singer Kev Carmody.

Controversial 80s rocker Angry Anderson and songstress Tina Arena have used social media to back the 'no' case.

Gates to the picnic-style Now & Forever event will open at 2pm on Friday with music from 3pm onwards.

Artists will perform across one main stage, with special guest appearances and collaborations expected throughout the day at the alcohol-free event.

Rudi Maxwell - AAP


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