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Fig Night 24th February 2017

Anabelle Kay
Darren Coggan
Daren Coggan

Dereb the Ambassador

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Kay says; ‘ Oklahoma had a big influence on my music – it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone there. I had my heart set on becoming a sports superstar but if I hadn’t met this particular girl in Cashion & became great friends it wouldn’t have come to pass.

Despite the somewhat unorthodox musical birth, in a place most people have often only attributed to two types of music - country and western – Kay finds herself receiving plaudits from the music industry and fans alike. Similarities to seminal artists such as Joan Baez, Gillian Welch, Karen Dalton and Laura Marling are bandied around, and in picking up play on Triple J, FBi, 2SER, Double J, ABC 702 and PBS, while also soundtracking TV programs such as Home & Away, Neighbours, and Winners & Losers she’s been picking up fans at a rapid pace.

It was from the furthest you can get from Oklahoma, however, that Kay has spent her time most recently; Once again in isolation, living and working with indigenous communities up in Gove in the Northern Territory, a near spiritual experience that gave rise to the songs in her latest EP " I Think I'm Lost, My Love".

As she notes, while she was ‘working for a community club working and booking bands – flying bands from Sydney and so on up to Nhulunbuy- 'I took it upon myself to try and get original bands happening’ she also found herself a regular on stage at the local community club where various legendary members of the local Yolngu community including the legendary Saltwater Band would come and jam. Naturally she couldn’t help but join in and it was during these jam sessions that the songs that would form I Think I’m Lost, My Love received their first outings. As Kay explains, ‘the experience of collaborating with locals was profound – most of songs on the EP were written after a jam the previous night’.

The songs, ranging from haunting and plaintive ballads to accusatory denunciations of past lovers; run the gamut of human emotion and inevitably leave a bruise across every listener – the artist’s experience shared with everyone. There are no casual fans here.

Following the recent release of I Think I’m Lost, My Love, and after a trip to Nashville for shows and select co-writing sessions with a handpicked coterie of music industry greats, Kay has returned to Australia where her shows are ranging from the solo and intimate to gatherings akin to group therapy sessions.


Darren’s professional career kicked off in 1995 when he won the prestigious Toyota Starmaker Award at the Tamworth CMF. In 1998 he was named "Young Citizen of the Year" in his hometown of Wagga Wagga.

1999 saw Darren cast as "Richie Cunningham" in the World Premiere Arena Musical “Happy Days” , which toured Australia extensively.

In January 2001 Darren was awarded his 1st Golden Guitar. He hosted Foxtel’s top rating television show "Out & About - The Great Aussie Pub Tour" and made a guest appearance on "All Saints". He played the dual role of "Teen Angel" and "Vince Fontaine" in "Grease - The Mega Musical", which toured Australia in the "Big Top" throughout 2001-2002 and followed this with the national “Big Top” tour of "Shout - the musical of the Wild One" in which he played several roles including 'Col Joye'.

In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Darren was awarded the ‘Centenary Medal – For Services to Australian Society’ in 2003. He released his second album, "Balancing Act", for which he was awarded ‘Australian Independent Male Vocalist of the Year’. He made another two guest appearances on, “All Saints” in 2004/05 and understudied John Farnham as Teen Angel in “Grease - The Arena Spectacular”.

2008 saw Darren release his fourth album, ‘WAR STORIES’ – a moving salute to the ANZACS for which he was awarded his 2nd Golden Guitar. He also played the lead role in the world premiere production of John Williamson’s musical Quambatook.

In 2010 he performed to a sold-out concert hall at The Sydney Opera House in his acclaimed production Peace Train – The Cat Stevens Story. Peace Train continued to inspire, playing to standing ovations and critical acclaim throughout 2012, 2013 & 2014, playing every major theatre in Australia. 2015 saw a very special Valentine’s Day performance at the State Theatre in Sydney and in September, Darren & Peace Train played the grand Auckland Town Hall, New Zealand.

In May 2015, Darren continued his close association with The Sydney Opera House as he presented ‘Country Kids’ for the highly successful Babies Proms series for Christine Dunstan Productions.

Most recently Darren was awarded ‘Male Artist Of The Year 2016’ at the Australian Celtic Music Awards in Glen Innes.


“Electrifying, kaleidoscopic vintage soul… his blistering vocal attack is beyond compare: hail one of the world’s most exhilarating new voices” – MAG

“Beautiful soulful joyous music that isn’t afraid to groove. You can’t go wrong.” – Bob Baker Fish

Dereb Desalegn (aka Dereb the Ambassador) is well known on the streets of Addis Ababa as one of Ethiopia’s most respected singers.

Born in Ethiopia, Dereb grew up amongst a family of musicians, completely immersed in his home country’s rich melange of sounds, rhythms and musical styles. Dereb’s extraordinary vocal talent was recognised early on, with his first performances at the age of 4. With parent mentors by his side he went from strength to strength, adding a Masenqo, the single-stringed Ethiopian spike fiddle, to his repertoire by the age of 10. By his teens he was drawing crowds in the bars of Addis Ababa and around Ethiopia.

In 2003 Dereb recorded his first solo album ‘Korkorow Yalew’ from which the hit single ‘Wollo’, reached number one on the Ethiopian charts. Dereb has since toured in America, England, Asia, New Zealand and Australia where he currently resides.

On arriving in Sydney, Dereb collaborated with producer Tony Buchen, to put together his latest project, assuming the moniker Dereb the Ambassador, after a title given to him years earlier by the Ethiopian media.

The first album under this new title, released in 2011, was recorded using pre-1970’s recording equipment, and is influenced by the warm, funky sounds of great Ethiopian artists from the 60’s and 70’s.

Having recently returned from a tour of Ethiopia, Dereb and his 8 piece band continue to develop new material and satisfying crowds with their gritty, addictive brand of Ethio-soul.

His band is Peter Farrar (saxophone), Daniel Pliner (keys), Jonathan Pease (guitar), Jarrol Renaud (bass), Ross Ferraro (drums)




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