Roz Pappalardo is recognised throughout Australia for her successful music and songwriting career. Most notably with the independent folk act Women in Docs as well as for her solo recordings and performances as a Country and Roots musician. She has recorded more than ten albums, winning various songwriting, self-management and music business awards for her efforts. As well as her own musical career, she is events programmer at the iconic Far North Queensland music venue the Tanks Arts Centre in Cairns, helping to bring high quality entertainment to the region.
Roz also has a strong commitment to music making in and for the community. As a project manager she has initiated and directed many projects: including a recent project called ‘Soldiers’ Wives’ about women who have lost their partners through military conflicts; and, community-based ones such as collaborating with Northern Territory school children in Maningrida, Arnhem Land to tell their stories of day-to-day life of their remote homeland.
Roz Pappalardo follows her musical heart around Australia and the world — using music as a powerful instrument of change.
View of Mt. Etna
The region of eastern Sicily where Roz Pappalardo’s grandmother came from is in the Italian province of Catania. Her home village of Piedmonte Etneo is located at the base of the legendary volcano, Mt. Etna. The population is approximately four thousand people and the region is renowned for its wine industry and beautiful coastal and mountain scenery. Historically, Sicilians spoke their own dialect but Italian has increasingly become the main language of communication. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, many Sicilians immigrated to Australia and other countries such as the United States, Canada and Argentina. Nonetheless, over the generations they have remained connected to their ancestral homeland.
In Australia, Italians have been present since 1770. Aboard British explorer James Cook’s first voyage of discovery there were two Italians and there was one Italian convict on the First Fleet. Hundreds of Italians came to Australia in the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850s. After the Gold Rush waned many of them dispersed to other parts of Australia across a range of occupations, some as labourers and farmers and others as professional artists, doctors and engineers. Immigration remained low over the next decades and in 1925 a quota system restriction was placed on Italian immigrants.
During World War Two some Italian nationals were interned as ‘enemy aliens’ but after hostilities ceased many Italians immigrated to Australia, especially into the early 1970s. Initially, they were predominantly men so the practice of proxy marriages to Italian women back home was common and some couples had to wait years for the wives to immigrate. Today, Italians are the fourth largest group of immigrants to Australia. In 2011 just under one million Australians identified as having some Italian ancestry and Italian is the second most used home language with over three hundred thousand speakers. Italian immigrants are concentrated in Victoria and South Australia but Queensland also had many and they played a key role in the agriculture, sugar and hospitality industries.