After a successful 2020, Australian band The KingStones, who are all National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, have their sights set on an even bigger 2021 with plenty of new music in the works.
Drawing inspiration for the band’s name, named after Kingston - a local suburb in Logan, Queensland, Juliet (Jewelz) 21, Nicholas (Nicky Drizz) 21, Evangel (Voice of Evangel) 19, William (The Bill) 20, and Daniel (Dan) 21, are out to prove there is no ‘dis’ in disability.
While some members experience a range of physical and psychosocial disabilities, this quintet is proof that with the right support, you can follow your dreams.
In late 2020, the band released Living With a Disability, a catchy pop and rap tune they all wrote to share insight into their day-to-day experiences. The band’s latest release, Thank You, was written to thank their families and friends who continue to believe in them.
KingStones manager and support worker, Kelvin Vaega, says the band formed when they finished Year 12. Seeing they all had a love of music, he and his wife, Joan, saw a great opportunity to support the talented young adults.
“I’m a musician; Joan and I have also worked in disability for years, so it was just a natural progression for us to take these five talented artists under our wing and support them to show the world what they are truly capable of,” says Mr Vaega.
“Their creativity and enthusiasm is just infectious, and their quest to write lyrics about their personal journeys and express them through music is just so powerful.”
Mr and Mrs Vaega have been working with the KingStones for over a year, providing a five-day-a-week program for band members, which includes music, health, and everyday life skills sessions.
“These are the main three pillars we focus on,” says Mrs Vaega. “We provide music remedy programs, which help band members connect with others, understand each other, and express their emotions.
“Then we have a health and wellness program where we work on improving each band member's overall health and wellbeing.”
Kelvin says another important facet to the KingStones is giving band members 'vibrant, realistic, no cover-up lessons' on issues young adults face today.
“We cover topics like cyber bullying, personal hygiene, literacy, and budgeting,” he says.
“We take a holistic approach, reiterating what is done day in, day out. This helps band members integrate better into their community and feel more accepted, and it’s all made possible with their NDIS community inclusion funding.”
All KingStone members say the NDIS has been life-changing in supporting them to follow their dreams.
They all enjoy being part of the band and they hope they make it big one day.
Each member also expressed how much they love and admire Mr and Mrs Vaega and how they feel like second parents, actively listening to them, sharing ideas, and supporting them to continue to build their talent, life skills, and self-esteem.
Female lead vocalists, Evangel and Juliet, say they especially love singing.
“I’ve loved singing since I was a little kid, and being part of the KingStones is a dream come true,” says Evangel.
Juliet adds, “Being part of the KingStones is beautiful. I want to be with these guys for the rest of our lives. I’m just so grateful.”
Mr Vaega says that growing up with a disability hasn’t been easy for the KingStones, so to be able to express themselves through music is 'a beautiful thing'.
“Their abilities and enthusiasm really drives us. It makes us even more determined to make sure we can support them all to be successful,” he says.
This year, the group will be releasing more original music and plan to drop a new tune at the end of each school term.
The band’s next song to be released is titled 'It’s All About Me', written by band member, Nicholas. Described as 'old school 80’s inspired', the song is all about what he likes to do and how he would like to be accepted and received.
If COVID-19 restrictions ease, the band is also planning a small tour through Northern Queensland.
“We would love to visit Hervey Bay, then Bundaberg, and finally Rockhampton,” says Mr Vaega.
“We will play in all these cities, putting on a ‘dance party’ for all the disability services and their communities.
If any service providers or disability support groups in these cities would like to participate, email [email protected] to express your interest.
You can stay up to date on The KingStones’ latest releases by subscribing to their YouTube channel.
This article was written using information provided by the NDIA.