Missy Higgins Has Revealed How Bluesfest Changed The Course Of Her Career

by Cameron Adams

The musician has shared with podcast Inside Bluesfest how playing the event for the first time turned into an awakening of how to use her platform to raise awareness.

She is now one of Australia’s most socially-conscious musicians, lending her name and clout to causes close to her heart.

BYRON BAY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 09: Missy Higgins performs on stage at the 18th Annual Bluesfest East Coast Blues & Roots Festival at Red Devil Park on April 9, 2007 in Byron Bay, Australia (Photo by James Green/Getty Images)

Higgins was touring her second album, On a Clear Night, in 2007 and was taking part in the Save the Kimberley campaign. She performed in front of a massive banner for the campaign and invited local Indigenous poet Albert Wiggan to join her on stage.

“It was just really beautiful,” Higgins told Inside Bluesfest host Ella Hooper.

“It was the first time I’d used the stage as a form of protest or tried to use it to get a message out there and spread the word about something I felt really strongly about. There were camera crews and people doing docos and it was all very exciting.”

Missy realised that the Bluesfest audience was the perfect place to highlight environmental issues.

“It’s such a big festival that I knew it would get lots of eyes on it, but yeah I knew that the people who ran Bluesfest would be OK with it used as something to raise awareness about the environment because yeah, I mean, it’s probably the hippiest part of Australia in Byron, so they’ve gotta be up for it.” 

BYRON BAY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 03: Stiltwalkers entertain the crowd during Day 3 of Bluesfest 2010 at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm on April 3, 2010 in Byron Bay, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

“It’s a fine line to tread because you don’t want to seem preachy and you don’t want the audience to feel as I’m trying to drill some message into them. I mean people come to a music show to forget about the world’s problems and have fun. So I don’t want to ruin that for them. So it’s all about a bit of medicine with the sugar.”

Missy will return to play Bluesfest in 2022, which runs in Byron Bay from April 14 to 18, tickets from bluesfest.com.au

Inside Bluesfest also features stories from Amy Shark, Neil Finn, Ian Moss, the Living End and Peter Garrett.

Listen to both episodes for free on LiSTNR now: