Hailing from the Eastern Highlands and New Ireland provinces of Papua New Guinea, though now Sydney Australia-based, Ngaiire’s sound melds electronic neo-soul, gospel, and big pop sounds, strained through the lens of a First Nations Papua New Guinean songwriter. Her musical career crosses genres and mediums and expectations.
Described by Rolling Stone as “a near perfect slice of hushed future soul, the muted synths cushioning Ngaiire’s endlessly expressive vocal performance”, Ngaiire-pronounced nigh-ree (rhymes with diary), has an innovative approach that has garnered her 4 ARIA award nominations (the Australian Grammys) including Artist of the Year, 4 National Live Music Awards, 3 FBi Radio SMAC Awards, and the inaugural Australian Women in Music Award for Artistic Excellence. She has collaborated with and joined other groundbreakers of sound on tour such as Sufjan Stevens, Alicia Keys, Flume, Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote and Leon Bridges. In 2021, she became the first musician to play in front of the National Press Club in Canberra, the first Papua New Guinean to appear on ABC’s “Play School” (Australia’s “Sesame Street”) and the first Papua New Guinean to be painted for the historical Archibald prize. Ngaiire may be most recognisable to US fans of the Oprah and Ava DuVernay show Queen Sugar with torch gospel song 'Fall Into My Arms' being featured in the penultimate episode of the second series.
Not allowing herself to be defined solely as a musician, Ngaiire is an avid visual artist and creator. She weaves this aspect of her creativity throughout her performances allowing audiences to further engage with the stories Ngaiire writes about. She is the painter behind her award nominated album cover for '3' and has had her video work hung and displayed at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Ngaiire will be performing songs from her award-winning album 3 - a visual musical exploration into experiences of journeying to her ancestral villages in Papua New Guinea. A journey that gave her the whole number expression of 3 that describes the many aspects of the self she inhabits as a woman living between cultures, lands and cultural expectations.
Ngaiire explains, "So here it is. 3. A perfectly acceptable odd number, just like me - a bit odd. A bit queer....As slow and breezy as a New Islander but also as stubborn and passionate as a Highlander. A bit Australian but also a bit Kiwi. A bit short and a bit not the right kind of black to be commercial enough."
3 not only represents her own identity, but her shared identities with her country, ancestors and living family. "I am full to the brim of stories that many don’t have the privilege to hold within themselves; some I know quite well and some live deep in my DNA that I won’t have enough lifetimes to unpack. But the ones I know, I will tell how I want to because I can. So here is a collection of love letters to 3 entities - myself, my country and those I love both here and now departed."
Ngaiire's upcoming tour encompasses the heart of her creation of ‘3’ with a full band all out live concert experience. One moment will be a cathartic pop banger, the next a harmonic electro-ballad that will break your heart.