Tyus Arndt - The Full Story

Image courtesy of Mark McCormack/ The Cairns Post

I come from The Torres Strait In far North Queensland, on a little island called Thursday Island. It is about 5km long which is pretty small, even as far as Islands go, with a population of 3, 500. The Torres Straight Islanders are indigenous people of Australia, but our culture is not Aboriginal Australian, but in fact Melanesian, which means we are more closely related both culturally and ethnically to Papua New Guinea. 

My school on Thursday Island was pretty small compared to schools down South. With only 180 children attending the school the facilities were very limited. Although my primary school didn’t have a massive library, I still loved to read and look at the amazing pictures in the books. Our school had three computer labs but they were very small and we sometimes had to share a computer with friends and other students. 

I first discovered I could sing when I was at home in the shower, but I was always told to be quiet.  But now, since I have done a lot with my singing, all my aunts don’t tell my cousins to be quiet when they are having a bath! 

When I was in Year Four I joined the school choir and travelled to Cairns every year to sing in the Cairns Eisteddford. I left choir for two years after my first visit to Cairns, which was a big mistake. Even though I don’t like to dwell on the past I know I missed out on many great experiences because I wasn’t in the choir for those years. 

In Year Six I joined the school band and that was a lot of fun. Most of the people in the band were my cousins so rehearsals always went well. I continued with the band and joined choir again in Year Seven. That same year I was selected to compete in the eleven to fourteen year old solo category at the Cairns Eisteddfod. Although I was the youngest competitor I still won, and to make it even better my mum was in Cairns so she saw my performance. She told me later that she cried! 

Once I returned home I felt compelled to have more involvement in music. Luckily for me, a scout from the Gondwana National Indigenous Children’s Choir came to Thursday Island to hold auditions. I was really happy when I was selected to join the choir because it meant I got to go to Sydney and
perform for Pope Benedict XVI for World Youth Day. I received a lot of attention through that performance, which eventually led to me being chosen to sing the lead solo in their 2009 TV commercial “I Still Call Australia Home”. 

                                                                                                                                                                                     Image courtesy of Jane Resture/ Jane's Oceania

At primary school I had many friends, and some of my closest mates were my cousins so we got along quite well. Most of the time we just hung out and played sport. My three favourite sports are Touch footy, Rugby League and my favourite Basketball, which I still play at Churchie.

Although I saw my friends almost every day I never got sick of them, because they were just so supportive with everything, especially my music. My family must be the most supportive family in the world as they have done so much to help me with my music career. My parents had to make the choice for me to go to boarding school, which at first did not seem like such a good idea and I wasn’t too happy about it, but I think it was the right decision. When I went to boarding school I became more independent and there were definitely more opportunities for workshop and performances, which have helped me grow as a musician.

                                Image courtesy of Churchie School

From there my music career started to definitely take off, with me doing gigs with people across Australia and even with Australian expatriates who live overseas in Los Angeles and New York. But there is one down side to being at boarding school at Churchie; my family are so far away, but it is great that I get to see them every school holidays when I return to Thursday Island