He’s known as South Sudan’s “King of Music” at home, but in 2014, Gordon Koang fled the country’s devastating civil war and retreated to Uganda before seeking asylum in Melbourne for his wife and six children. Unity is the blind pop singer’s 11th album and his first since settling in Australia. Throughout, he ties together fragments of his life before and after fleeing violence, with messages of love and solidarity told via lyrics performed in English, Arabic and his native Nuer. It’s an experience addressed directly on the opening track: “My dear asylum seekers, we know you’re waiting for your permanent protection visa, we know you’ve been waiting for a long time…you need to be patient.” As he alternates between languages, the singer—who was finally granted a visa in 2019—delivers his messages of hope and advice with straightforwardness, using his joyous pop melodies to invite listeners to come together. Every song is underscored by Koang’s signature thom, an East African harp built with wood, metal pins and nylon strings—it’s front and centre on “Y Dah”, the upbeat “Mal Mi Goa” and the celebratory “Stand Up (Clap Your Hands)”, in which he speaks directly to his listeners: “Don’t keep quiet, move your body, come up here/We love you, audience.”

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