Tom has been working as a musician and a songwriter since the early 1990s. Since moving to Brisbane from Adelaide in 2001 he has worked in Mental Health, Disability Support, Education, Aged Respite, Youth Drug and Alcohol Services and in Aboriginal Communities. He has used songwriting in all these contexts to help people identify their strengths and passions.
In 2002 he went to work as a Teacher Aide and Writer in Residence at Wulungurra Community School where he worked with students to write 10 songs, record six of them and released 4 on a CD.
Here’s a song called Basketball written by Shereena and Jeneka
From 2003 to 2011 Tom worked variously in Education, Youth Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Mental Health where he ran Arts Programs, Creativity and Song Writing Workshops.
In 2012, he returned to the Kimberley in WA to work at Yiyili Aboriginal Community School. He used music and song writing to work with the community to bring their knowledge of Gooniyandi culture and language to the students. About 50 songs were written and performed at school events and a CD was recorded.
Here’s a song called Beep Beep (Over the Steering Wheel) written by Javon and Sahalia
In 2013, Tom returned to Brisbane where he began working with adults with disabilities who receive self-directed funding. He soon created a niche for himself as a Song Writer/Performance Mentor for music loving creative people living with intellectual or mental health disabilities or other marginalised people.
Using their own funding he helped facilitate the professional recording of 4 original songs.
Here’s a song called Some Questions Got No Answers written by Daniel Crook and performed by his sister Lisa and Tom Smith
Their first performance on June 15 that year at Room 60 in Kelvin Grove was a celebration of the recordings. The performance gave the group a lot of confidence and the desire to pursue more performance opportunities.
Here’s some footage of Jamie Carrigan performing a song he wrote called ‘Hubba Hubba Ding Ding’ from June 15.
September 14 saw them perform at Substation in Paddington and on March 22, 2015 at State Library Qld for ‘AllTogether’, (International Day of Disability).
In 2015, Tom began running workshops at West End Community House and Gailes Community Centre. Participants in both groups come together for performances. The West End group has begun doing their workshops in People’s Park as part of West End Create. Workshops are followed by an open mic which is open to the public and a great way to meet new collaborators, strengthen community ties and hone performance skills. Other highlights so far have been performing at Multicap Community Festival, Roving Pop Up Conspiracy (West End), King Cray Cabaret (Princess Theatre), an article in Southwest Quest News, and a mention in a report on Create West End on Breakfast with Spencer Howson on 612 ABC.
Here’s the ABC radio story
and the Quest News feature