Small Island Big Song - Ensemble - US tour 22 - Image by Kimmi CranesApril 1, 2022

Dorothy Menker Theater

Moraine Valley Community College acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Illinois Arts Council Agency


Small Island Big Song is a multi-platform project uniting the seafaring cultures of the Pacific and Indian Oceans through songs, a contemporary and relevant musical statement from a region at the frontline of the Climate Crisis.

Founded by Taiwanese producer BaoBao Chen and Australian music producer and filmmaker Tim Cole in 2015, the two have been recording and filming with over a hundred musicians in nature across 16 island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The outcomes include an award-winning album, a feature film, outreach programs, and a live concert that has toured around the world across four continents reaching over 170K+ live audiences since the world premiere at SXSW 2018.

Small Island Big Song explores the cultural connections between the descendants of the seafarers of the Pacific and Indian Oceans through the Austronesian migration. Working with artists who have made a choice to maintain the cultural voice of their people, to sing in the language, and to play the instruments of their land. These unique lineages mixed with their diverse contemporary styles - roots-reggae, beats, grunge, RnB, folk & spoken-word, establishing a contemporary musical dialogue between cultures as far afield as Madagascar, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Taiwan, Mauritius, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), creating "One coherent jaw dropping piece" as described by Rob Schwartz - Billboard.

Music critic Tom Orr has noted in the RootsWorld review “…. sound like one very big, very happy family doing what they do best while helping get the word out on a most serious issue.”


Framed in a theatrical narrative amongst panoramic visuals of the artist’s homelands, the audience experiences a musical journey across the breadth and into the soul of island nations of

Pacific and Indian Ocean, meeting an ancient seafaring ancestry and confronting the impacts of climate crisis head on.

Drawing on a roster of renowned first nation artists from across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the concert features musicians performing irresistible oceanic grooves to soulful island ballads engaging audiences from huge festival stages to intimate theatres. Combining music, spoken word and AV projections featuring footage collected during a 3-year film trip across 16 countries guided by the artists on their homelands, creating "One coherent jaw dropping piece" as described by Rob Schwartz - Billboard.

Toured to 15 countries across four continents, 170K+ audiences have seen it live since its premiere at SXSW 2018. It has become a feature of SIBS concerts for encore to spontaneously erupt into a shared celebration, with instruments, voices and dancing bodies rising from the seats.

Moving beyond the concert experience, Small Island Big Song offers a variety of opportunities for students and audiences to investigate the environmental, political, social and cultural contexts on our oceans’ islands.




Emlyn – Mauritius
Lead Singer & Musician - Lead Vocal, Dancer, Ravann, Triangle, Kayamb, Maravann, Guitar
Featured on CNN, songwriter, musician and dancer, Emlyn is leading a wave of performers across the Indian Ocean proudly reclaiming their unique rhythms and cultural mix. Written with a reactive pen and sung in Creole, her songs rebelliously express her concerns for her island’s environment. A cause she has taken up as co-founder of ‘Enn Losean Vivab’ (one livable ocean), a Mauritius based 2rganization educating school students about plastic pollution. Emlyn brings the infectious grooves of Sega with its soul from the African slave trade to the stage played on the Ravann, Triangle and Kayamb.


Putad – Amis of Taiwan
Lead Singer & Musician – Lead Vocal, Bass, Jaw Harp
Powerful, entrancing, unapologetic all words used to describe Putad’s engaging stage presence. In the proud spirit of her Indigenous Amis heritage Putad unites ancient vocal traditions with raw energy of grunge, rock and punk as her and her brother Wusang’s band Outlet Drift express. Their bold, uplifting and uncompromising shows place their Amis heritage on centre stage at 100db & 100mph as they confront prejudices taking the audience on an unforgettable sonic ride.


Selina Leem – Marshall Islands & US
Spoken Word
Selina is among the global faces of climate change, representing her country in the film ‘Before the Flood’ produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and as the youngest speaker at the COP21 for Paris

Agreement, making a passionate plea to global leaders for stronger action on climate change. Selina can push her audience into a place of understanding and care for her homeland, whilst making them look into the future and see the repercussions of current global actions.


Sammy – Madagascar
Musician - Valiha, Kabosy, Jejy, Flutes, Marovany, Guitar
Sammy has led an extraordinary life as a Madagascan musician, at a time when most picked up guitars over the traditional Valiha, Sammy followed his passion for Madagascar’s musical heritage, by mastering and learning how to make most of Madagascar’s instruments. His efforts coming to the notice of the UK’s world music scene as his group ‘Tarika Sammy’, gained international recognition, becoming a regular on major festival stages and being acknowledged as one of the world’s best 10 bands, by TIME Magazine.

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Kokol – Mauritius
Musician - Ravann, Djembe, Guitar
A master of Mauritius’s creole musical heritage, Kokol is spearheading a musical movement uniting the cultural intersections of the Caribbean and Indian Oceans, through creating a unique and uplifting fusion of Sega and Reggae. Two styles of music identifying with marginalized islander communities sharing a slave ancestry.


Richard Mogu – Papua New Guinea
Musician - Mambu, Bass, Guitar, Log Drums, Kundu Drum, Garamut Drum, Percussions
From Amazon Bay on the south coast, Mogu has been a feature musician in PNG for many years as a solo artist and session musician. Excelling in both traditional and contemporary style. Whilst bass is his feature instrument, he is also adept at mambu (bamboo flutes), garamut drumming, guitars and percussion. He was taught by legendary Sanguma founder Tony Subam.


Kan – Mauritius
Musician - Ravann, Boy, Bob, Percussions
Kan is a multi-disciplinary artist from Mauritius. After being at the forefront of the local electronic music scene, he went on the quest of discovering music instruments from various cultures as looking for a meaning to his art. With increasing deterioration of the environment came the urge to act. In 2017, he co-founded ‘Enn Losean Vivab’ (one livable ocean) with Emlyn. His works started to catch worldwide interest as he was invited to deliver a TEDx talk and was interviewed by CNN. His series of ‘Trash to music’ tutorial videos have taught how to craft music instruments from garbage, such as drums using tin-cans and plastic bottles. Art carried his messages on environmental & social issues.



Tim Cole – Australia
Director, Music producer, filmmaker, VJ
Tim is an Australian creative who has been working on cross-cultural arts projects with music at the heart since producing Not Drowning Waving’s album and DVD ‘Tabaran’ in Papua New Guinea.

Skills developed whilst studying film making at Melbourne University during the day, and producing music at night, which led to a career of equal parts film & music.

His reputation in Indigenous arts led him to Alice Springs as Senior Music Producer for CAAMA - Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association. It was the experience here recording traditional songlines whilst hearing the 5th IPCC report, which led to the founding of ‘Small Island Big Song’.

Tim holds a BEd. in Media Arts from Melbourne University and A.D. in Music Production from the University of Victoria in Australia and has received a Churchill fellowship and invitation to speak on climate change and the arts at the United Nations, APAP NYC, WOMEX. Along with industry recognition through numerous awards for projects he has played a key creative role on.


BaoBao Chen – Taiwan
Manager, project producer
Having negotiated, booked, planned and tour-managed several successful international concert tours across Europe, the USA, Asia and Oceania, involving up to 13 artists from 8 countries, whilst releasing a music album, creating an interactive website and bringing a feature film to screen, BaoBao is one of Taiwan’s most prominent producers of cross-cultural arts projects.

With a B.A. in Business Management from YuanZe University in Taiwan, BaoBao has realized Small Island Big Song project from the grassroots up, fundraising through crowdfunding, philanthropic bodies and arts grants along with initiating the project’s Fair Trade Music structure and recognition of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

As a vivid storyteller and fluent in English and Mandarin, she has a social media following of 150K+, and has been invited to present at TEDx, APAP NYC, WOMEX, World Stage Design and numerous film and music festivals.

She was brought up by a vegan family on an organic farm and was a member of the Roots and Shoots program of the Jane Goodall Foundation. It was her skills in arts management and her love for nature that founded Small Island Big Song.


“The most important music documentary you will see this year.” beat magazine Australia

Filmed over three years on 16 Island nations across the Pacific & Indian Oceans, this grassroots musical follows the ocean highways uniting ancient musical lineages. From Madagascar to Rapa Nui/Easter Island, Taiwan to Zenadth Kes/The Torres Strait. A heartfelt plea for environmental awareness and cultural preservation from those on the frontline of the climate crisis.


First Album “Small Island Big Song”
Released independently in 2018, physical CDs and DVD will be available on tour.
Winner - 2019 Songlines Music Award UK - Best Asia/Pacific album
Winner - 2019 The Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics' Awards) - Album of the Year
Nominated - 2019 Independent Music Awards US - Best Concept Album & Best Music Website
★★★★★ “Simply brilliant!” Seth Jordan - Songlines Magazine
★★★★★ Bruce Elder - Sydney Morning Herald
“One of our favorites, not an usual thing” Lauren Laverne's Album of the week on BBC Radio 6
“A playful and potent soundtrack. Utterly wonderful!” Stuart Derdeyn - Vancouver Sun
“One coherent jaw dropping piece” Rob Schwartz - Billboard
“...sound like one very big, very happy family doing what they do best while helping get the word out on a most serious issue.” - Tom Orr - RootsWorld
Second Album “One Ocean”
Releasing in Dec. 2021, physical CDs will be available on tour.

New Singles out now
Listwar Zanset
Ta’u Tama

Official website

Fine and Performing Arts Center Staff

Technical Director

Manager of Theater Operations and Services

Assistant Technical Director


Art Gallery Coordinator

Front-of-House Staff

Sean McIntosh

Julian Tillery

Amanda Hantson

MaryAnn Luciano-Smith

Cecilia Vargas

Ramsey Bauer, Karen Datro, Page Domikaitis, Tom Gerez, Robin Kmiec, Jim Novak, David Roczkowski, Lisa Rock, Sujith Saju

Technical Crew

Jaclyn Bobbitt, Nathan Carpenter, Alex Craig, Samm Hilger, Jessica Miller, Tom Schoenbeck, Guadalupe Sosa, Quintin Turnbow