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Rock it with Clara the Croc

Having traded the red sand of Central Australia for the white tropical sand of the Top End, singer-songwriter Sally Balfour is no stranger to the Territory music scene, strumming her folky tunes across the NT since 2012.

Now Balfour’s venturing into the wonderful world of children’s music, thanks to funding through the NT Arts Grants Program in the emerging artist category. We caught up with Balfour to chat about a little crocodile called Clara.

Firstly, congratulations on your new project! What inspired you to foray into children’s music?
Having kids was certainly a major push! I used work on the kids’ TV program Yamba’s Playtime in Alice Springs, which was one of my favourite jobs before I left to move to Darwin. After the birth of my first son, I had the idea of a crocodile and its journey through the NT, and always wanted to get back into children’s entertaining – it’s just so much fun.
 
Tell us about the album Clara Crocodile!
The album centres on the story of Clara the Crocodile. Clara is threat-ened with the prospect of being eaten by other crocodiles, but after being told about Alice Springs, a place where there are no crocodiles, she decides to make the journey from the Top End to the Red Centre. On her journey from Darwin to Alice, she meets different characters who she makes friends with along the way.
 
Each character is actually a different NT musician.
 
When I was writing the album I had different musicians in mind for the different characters. There’s an old rambling green tree frog played by Ted Egan, so I wanted his song to be a country-folk-travelling song with Ted singing and playing the Fosterphone (an empty beer carton).
 
Other musicians on the album include Xavia, Katie Harder, Genise Williams, Dave Crowe, Ash McDonell, Gavin Baird and Warren H Williams.
 
Were they keen to be on a children’s album?
Now that I think of it, they were all forthcoming. I originally applied for the funding a few years ago and planted the seed with some of them then, but this time I applied with a focus on Alice and the musicians there. Some of them I’ve known for years and had musical relationships with, and some are brand-new. They were all intrigued!
 
Clara sounds delightful – what’s she like?
She’s very adventurous and very kind. She’s actually a vegetarian crocodile and very easy to make friends with, with a big appetite for adventure. When I was first thinking about the character, I originally thought it would be a male – then I asked myself, “but why?” 
 
I did a writing for children course and learnt children’s books generally come from a male perspective, so I thought it would be cool to have a female perspective. All of the kids’ picture books at our place that feature a crocodile come from a male voice so that’s why I wanted a female. Clara translates to brilliant – so she’s a bright, friendly, vegetarian crocodile!
 
What do you hope this album does for Territory kids?
I hope Territory kids and families really embrace it as it is a uniquely Territorian story that is eclectic and doesn’t sound like The Wiggles! 
 
I hope they enjoy the story, the different styles of music and the voices. And this is an NT story – most of the places sung about on the album are places they would have been to or heard of, and I think that’s really special.
 
When does the album come out and can we expect to see any live shows?
Both very good questions that I don’t currently have an answer for! I’m hoping it’s out by the end of the year and would love to do some live performances. I’d like to present it to festivals so it’s just working out the logistics of the musicians and how it’ll look. Watch this space…
 
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