This content was led by Louis, as part of our 'Disability pride starts here' project.
This piece consists of photos of young artists and a small write-up. The aim is to champion the voices of neurodiverse and disabled young people (or people with lived experience of mental ill-health).
Louis (they/them) is an advocate for issues concerning the LGBTQIA+ and neurodiverse communities. They are a proud queer, non-binary, autistic creator from Naarm/Melbourne. With a positive outlook, and upbeat approach, Louis is a keen music lover who you will likely find at many events, both behind the scenes and on stage. Louis is passionate about all forms of youth engagement in the arts/music/cultural scene and enjoys learning from their peers to make sure other young people have the best opportunity to enjoy themselves within the creative arts space! Louis values compassion, creativity and individuality as well as storytelling and sharing experiences with other people.
Kiarnna Lehman (She/her)
Lutruwita/Tasmania-based singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Kiarnna Lehman (she/her) is a young musician breaking onto the music scene with her busking and both private and public gigs.
Lehman performs acoustically, accompanied on stage by her ukulele and guitar. With a broad and extensive repertoire A list of songs, dances or other items that a performer knows.repertoireincluding covers of songs like ‘Mister Brightside’ by the Killers, ‘1955’ by Hilltop Hoods, ‘Youth’ by Daughter, ‘Absolutely Smitten’ by Dodie and Fleetwood Mac’s iconic anthem ‘Dreams’ and a collection of songs she has penned herself, Lehman is an artist who has something for everyone.
While based in Tasmania, Lehman is no stranger to mainland Australia and its live music scenes. You might have seen Kiarnna Lehman around at local Tasmanian festivals like Little Laneway Fringe Festival, Twilight Markets, Harvest Markets, Craft Fairs, Community Shows or at Melbourne/Naarm-based venues like 2 Brothers Brewery, The Stag’s Head Hotel, and more!
Being ADHD and Autistic, she has come to find beauty in the passion that comes with expressing ones’ interest, eloquently describing it as “sparkly” and beautiful to watch or listen to. Lehman loves being able to find comfortable space with other people that is not as reliant on typically important social cues like eye contact. Being proud and neurodiverse for Lehman looks like connecting with others and finding what their sparkle is.
Lehman appreciates travel, live music, family and friends and so much more. Lehman’s songwriting draws inspiration from the influences around her - both at a societal level and more personally with one original titled ‘Black Lives Matter’.
Songwriting for Kiarnna Lehman is a must, a necessity and a form of expression that is heavily influenced by her emotions, particularly strong negative emotions that fuel much of the content of her music. 2023 will be an exciting year for Kiarnna Lehman who plans to release some of her music and shifts her focus to prioritise more of her own songs.
Find Kiarnna Lehman on her socials:
Kitty Rae (She/they)
With a new self-titled EP ‘Kitty Rae’ in 2022, Naarm/Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Kitty Rae (she/they) has made a splash into the music scene as they chase success off the back of her debut with a dark electropop take on Dolly Parton’s iconic feminist anthem ‘9 to 5’ and brand new single ‘Sick of Being Sad’.
Originally from rural Victoria, Rae, a self-described colourful dark-pop artist is no stranger to the stage and never fails to entertain with their bright hair and equally bright vibes. Kitty Rae is a seasoned performer, with some notable performances of singles and her EP across Naarm at The Gasometer, The Retreat Hotel Brunswick, The Worker’s Club, The Bad Decisions Band, Hotel Westwood and so many others.
Rae’s songwriting is influenced by how they see the world around them and their emotions. She has been open on social media talking about her experience being diagnosed with bipolar and their lyrics reflect the feelings that are associated with the highs and lows.
The hauntingly powerful and deeply emotive lyrics throughout their discography shines a light on the feelings of insecurity, the unknown and feeling out of one’s depths moving through the world.
Rae is set to keep adding gigs to her portfolio as they take the stage at Knox Festival, Brunswick Music Festival, and Moomba Festival 2023. 2022 saw Kitty Rae perform at the ‘Real Songwriters of Melbourne’ (RSOM) end-of-year celebration at The Gasometer and then go on to have ‘Swim With Sharks’ voted in the top 5 songs for 2022 in the RSOM community alongside other talented Naarm/Melbourne musicians.
‘Swim With Sharks’ went on to win the Song of the Year Award. Kitty Rae’s music and songwriting are reminiscent of artists like Billie Eilish and Lana Del Rey with some of her inspirations including Lorde and Vera Blue.
Rae continues to prove that she is an artist to watch as the rising star they are.
Find Kitty Rae on their socials:
Lil is an active community member and emerging artist in the dance and music sectors within the creative arts industry. They love helping people and finding ways to positively participate and contribute. While they do not have a formal diagnosis of autism, they recognise in their life similarities between their experiences struggling with social cues, friendships, sensory and auditory processing and other symptoms which are categorised under the diagnosis criteria.
Since the age of three, Lil has been dancing. Their first discipline was petite ballet before going on to tap, hiphop and jazz. Their love of dance fuels their dreams to become a professional ballet dancer in the future with their hopes set on starting pointè. Lil would also love the opportunity to make a career out of music or youth work to give back to her community and help other young people.
Aside from dance, Lil is a talented and passionate singer. They have been singing since the age of nine and took singing lessons briefly during primary school and again in secondary school. Lil says they are inspired by their favourite artists including Taylor Swift, Ricki-Lee, Zendaya and Gretta Ray.
Lil has been building up their performance experience with community events and dance competitions under their belt.
When asked what they wish people understood about neurodiversity, disability and mental ill-health, Lil discussed how the experience of these issues for the people living with them are not linear and that no two people are the same.
“everyone's experiences are different and therefore everyone who fits into those categories are going to be different- you can't like, stereotype or compare us.”
Lil is a very insightful young creative who is maturing into her craft. It will be exciting to see where the next few years take them and how they will continue to nurture their creative enthusiasm!