Kristina Kelman

Kristina Kelman is a passionate educator, researcher and Jazz singer. She’s a lecturer in music at the Queensland University of Technology and has been involved in a number of collaborative music based projects that cross countries, institutions and cultures.

Across all of her different projects, the key theme to Kelman’s work is collaboration.

“I’m really interested in this idea of institutional collaboration, international collaboration and the development of new learning models or new models for collaboration,” Kelman says.

About Kristina Kelman

Kelman completed a PhD in 2014, which looked into how high school music students transition to a professional environment.

“I started a high school student enterprise that has run for about five years, transitioning the student to industry professional through curation of music festivals, conferences and running their own venue. I tracked their learning over that time,” Kelman says.

She describes her involvement in other people’s musical or career development as an enabler.

“I’m interested in the way people learn and transition from one identity to the other. I’m not so interested in teaching people how to do those things but just creating the conditions to enable them to be transformed,” Kelman says.

Some of Kelman’s recent projects she has been involved in include: Yamani: Voices of an Ancient Land, India 100 and Songs to Change Our World.

Yamani: Voices of an Ancient Land

From left to right: Joyce Bonner, Faith Baisden, Ethel Munn, Bridget Priman, Melinda Holden, Leonora Adidi and Kristina Kelman. Launching the album and documentary at the QLD Music Festival, State Library, July 2015. Image credits: Carolyn Barker

This project saw the Queensland Indigenous Language Advisory Council (QILAC) collaborate with the Wantok Musik Foundation record label to produce an album of ten songs in five different Indigenous languages.

Kelman was involved in this project as music producer, mentor and coach. She created an environment that enabled these women to transform themselves and become musicians, singers and songwriters.

To discover more about this project read our No Walls feature article: Preserving Ancient Language in Song.

India 100

India 100

Based on the QUT Indie 100 model, India 100 is a project that has been taking place in Chennai, India since 2015. The project has won two grants, the first being a QUT innovation and the second, a DFAT grant from the Australia-India council.

“We really felt that what worked in Brisbane was kind of unearthing what was happening in the underground music scene. We thought, let’s go to Chennai where we know there’s a bubbling little scene, and see if we can help unearth it a bit,” Kelman says.

According to Kelman the music scene in India is saturated by the Bollywood genre, which makes up 80% of what people are listening to.

“In India, anything that’s not Bollywood is considered Indie [and] when it comes to the Indie scene, there is no infrastructure around it,” Kelman says.

India 100

Initially the project partnered with an Indian music organisation called EarthSync, and they piloted the QUT Indie 100 model in collaboration with them to record twelve emerging Indian Indie rock bands.

“We tried to replicate that intensive recording experience for emerging artists,” Kelman says.

The second iteration of the project saw the group team up with the KM Music Conservatory, which is a famous university in Chennai, that was started by A.R. Rahman, who is most commonly known for being the film composer for Slumdog Millionaire.

“We thought how about we take the India 100 model away from the conference and bring it to the school to work with students and professionals together to record thirteen songs with emerging artists.”

India 100

In December 2016 Kelman was in India during the intensive three-day recording period where the musicians did a showcase at the EarthSync conference, which according to Kelman was a highlight of the event.

The next phase of this project will see students engage in the music business side – promoting, distributing and selling the music.

“I have students from Entertainment industries [at QUT] join me every year. They will work with students from KM conservatory to actually get this album released and distributed,” Kelman says.

Songs to Change Our World

Songs to Change our World is a collaboration between four universities; QUT, the University of Indiana in the United States, Bergen Community College in New Jersey, and the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

“We have collaborated together to invite all of our students to meet each other online, to listen to each other’s work and to form groups and compose songs around issues of global social change and social justice,” Kelman says.

The first stage of the project has seen students meet online to begin interacting and collaborating. The second phase is the business side, which invites music business students to work on creating a business model to disseminate the songs created.

“There’s obviously a lot of different places where this music could really be distributed and highlighted and released in, so this is a really exciting project,” Kelman says.

Jazz Singer by Trade

Image credits: James Dillon

Even with her involvement in all of these diverse projects, and her work as a lecturer at QUT, Kelman still finds time to release her own albums.

Kelman is a jazz singer by trade. Her music practice has seen her release an album at the end of 2015 with a record company in the States and she is currently working on getting another one out at the end of 2017.

“I get to gig a couple of times a month and I’m writing music with my quartet and recording and releasing an album at the end of this year again,” Kelman says.

“It’s very exciting, there’s lots of cool stuff happening. I just love it. I’m so happy I get to come to work each day and do things that I love,” Kelman says.