Elly-May Barnes To Spotlight Being An Artist Living With A Disability On 'Australian Story'

16 November 2023 | 11:03 am | Mary Varvaris

“If you have any opportunity to give disability a platform, you’ve got to take it.”

Elly-May Barnes for 'Australian Story'

Elly-May Barnes for 'Australian Story' (Source: Supplied)

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Next week, one of the most important stories of Australian music will air on television.

Elly-May Barnes, Jimmy Barnes and Jane Barnes’ youngest daughter has, of course, picked up musical talent from her family, but her creative journey hasn’t been easy.

Elly-May was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was three years old.

The diagnosis came after she was born 14 weeks premature, and her parents told their daughter only had a 50/50 chance of survival. For two and a half years, Australian Story has filmed Elly-May’s story as she steps out as a cabaret singer and passionate advocate for people with disabilities.

The 34-year-old artist has sold out her cabaret show numerous times, with Elly-May putting on a show alongside her father, brother David Campbell and uncle Diesel.

“I’m in a place where I am comfortable with who I am and to tell my story. It’s OK to be happy and disabled,” Elly-May says on Monday’s episode of Australian Story.

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She added, “If you have any opportunity to give disability a platform, you’ve got to take it.”

Jimmy Barnes features in the episode with his daughter, telling Australian Story’s Leigh Sales that fans have approached him, telling him how great it is to see Elly-May on stage with her family. “They didn’t know what it took physically for her to get from the ground up to the stage,” Jimmy shared. “It was a monumental effort.

“​​​Elly-May’s disability has never been a secret. But if anything, we’ve tried to keep it a secret from her.”

Elly-May Barnes’ episode of Australian Story, Stepping Up, will air on Monday, 20 November, at 8 pm on ABC TV and iView. She’s also gearing up to release her debut single, Creep, on Monday.

In October, Elly-May Barnes signed a record deal with ABC Music. “So this is a thing! I’m so excited I don’t even have words,” she wrote upon the announcement dropping.

ABC Music issued a statement on social media that teased Elly-May’s rockstar future, which read:

“We’re delighted to welcome the sensational Elly-May Barnes to ABC Music; her Blondie meets Chrissy Amphlett vibes are an electrifying blend of talent and charm that’s simply infectious. New single coming this year, and debut album set for release in 2024!”

Elly-May’s episode of Australian Story follows the recent two-parter of Silverchair members Ben Gillies and Chris Joannou in promoting their new book, Love & Pain. In October 2022, Australian Story hosted heavy metal icons Parkway Drive as they dug into mental health, therapy and the band's future.