Singing Sisters Bring Back a Fringe Favourite

With Fringe still a thing in 2021, we sat down with two of the driving forces behind Adelaide’s Gospo Collective, the acclaimed community-based music program that is set to reheat a hit.

Gospo Collective’s founder and lead conductor Charmaine Jones

Singing sisters Charmaine Jones and Joanna Arul Tropeano are South Australia proud.  As Adelaide-based performers, educators and musical entrepreneurs, they’ve carved out careers that are as eclectic as the people they’ve worked with and the shows that they’ve produced over the last twelve years. 

Eschewing the notion that you have to leave this state to ‘make it’, the Sri Lankan born sisters are a testament to hard work and having passion for what you do. “Everyone should be encouraged to share their voice,” says elder sister Charmaine, Gospo’s founder and lead conductor. 

Raised by their parents to do exactly that, it’s a philosophy they pour into their roles as teachers, arrangers and performers with Gospo Enterprises, the company Charmaine founded in 2009.

“Singing and performing the way we do as a collective is a beautiful way of connecting and communicating,’ says Joanna, who takes charge of Gospo’s Jones Chorus, their education program for 12-16 year olds. 

Like Charmaine, she also works as a choral director at an Adelaide school and runs a well-followed fashion blog (@the_style_file) on the side. There’s no question, however, about where her heart truly lies.

“I’m a bit more reserved than Charmaine in terms of my personality, but when I sing there is a freedom that is undeniable. Sharing that with our students and seeing them thrive during a performance is my life’s reward. I’m so lucky to do what I do.”

Frequently recognised around town, the sisters grew up with music as a part of their daily lives. Although recalling early concerts performed at parents’ dinner parties and re-enactments of Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, none of it seemed attached to the concept of celebrity. “Singing was for everyone, and still is,”  Joanna says.

In addition to being a soprano singer, the pair’s mother ran a speech, drama and elocution school in Sri Lanka. It meant that the way the siblings spoke and presented was drummed into them very early on. 

“Singing was a natural extension of that and became a central part of our education. In reality, it’s been a discipline we’ve practised without thinking about it since before we can even remember. It even felt normal when I started teaching at the age of twelve!” says Charmaine.

Choral director Joanna Arul Tropeano

This early discipline carried them through an extremely difficult period in 2020. Although forced to move their choral groups online, The Gospo Collective continued to perform, inviting guests to their ‘Live Lounge Sessions’ via their growing YouTube channel.

By continuing to practice their art, Charmaine says they’ve ‘embraced  the complexities of life as we know it’, and emerged as better musicians.

This year, their work will again culminate in their annual showcase at the Adelaide Fringe, where they will reboot their award-winning presentation of Jackson v Jackson.

Playing to sellout crowds in 2019, the show is a combination of both Janet and Michael’s greatest hits, and delves deep into the famous siblings own influences. The result is a captivating journey through some of the best soul, funk and pop music ever created.

As per all of their previous shows, Charmaine says audiences can expect special guests on stage each night, and confirmed an overture had been written by Chong Lim AM, the legendary composer for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“We rejigged everything for COVID, so we can’t wait to bring back a show we know the people love.”

Check out some highlights of their earlier Fringe shows on YouTube @GospoMusicAUS

Words Jon Aspin
Images Diana Melfi

Celebrating The New Adelaide

These celebrated faces are in hot demand, appearing on the pages of fashion magazines globally and fronting campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands. 

Left to right: Vaibhavi Lath, Hollie Brown and Madison Stubbington
vaibhavi lath

She’s fashion’s hottest new commodity, with premium labels vying to have her as the fresh face of their brands. The New Delhii-born beauty moved to Adelaide at the age of seven. Before that she spent time in Mauritius and London. Since her 2018 debut the 18-year-old has appeared in a long list of Australian fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar and has worked for iconic Australian labels including Viktoria & Woods, Aje and Nobody Denim.  

It’s been a speedy rise to the top since you were signed with Finesse back in 2018. What has that been like for you?
It’s been so surreal and incredible. I honestly can’t believe all the opportunities I’ve received so far. As I am still new to the industry it can get daunting. But I can say that I have definitely met some of the most humble creatives along the way. It has been quite the journey so far. 

You’re doing well nationally and have had some interest from international agents, tell me about this.
One day I received a call from my agent at Finesse informing me that I had a big international agency, Elite Worldwide, interested in me. That same night I did a conference call with three Paris agents, including the director of the Worldwide Women Division. Long story short, after my slightly nervous rambling and background conversations in French (which I couldn’t understand!), the agency decided they wanted me in Paris immediately. I was set to make my debut there at the end of 2020, however due to COVID my travel plans have been stalled.

What’s been your career highlight so far?
I have worked on so many amazing projects so far, it’s really hard to pick a single favourite moment. But I will never forget what started it all – walking for Paolo Sebastian at the Adelaide Fashion Festival in 2018. It is definitely a career highlight for me, working with such a renowned Australian designer. I am very proud of that achievement. 

Hollie Brown

Holly’s career kicked off when she was named as the face of the Adelaide Fashion Festival in 2018. She appeared in the Spring issue of South Australian Style that same month. Since then she has shot for some of the country’s biggest brands, gaining the attention of UK-based agents along the way.

Describe the moment you were announced as the face of the Adelaide Fashion Festival in 2018.
Being announced as the face of the Adelaide Fashion Festival was the most memorable moment in my career so far. I was so grateful and lucky to have been a part of such a great event, connecting with amazing South Australian creators and everyone that made the festival happen. 

We worked with you on a fashion shoot for South Australian Style during that same year (our Athletica shoot!), what have you learnt about the fashion industry globally since that time?
I have learnt so much. I have travelled to many different countries, [experiencing] different cultures and styles [while on] different shoots.

You were supposed to be in the UK this year but have remained in Australia due to COVID…
Yes, my plan was to travel to the UK to visit my family. I was also hoping to explore more opportunities in London with IMG Models. 

madison stubbington

She was hand-picked by Anna Wintour for US Vogue, has walked for Louis Vuitton, Gucci and YSL, and has been named as one of the top 50 models on the planet.

You started modelling at the age of 14 after winning a model search, describe what that was like.
Definitely unexpected. I went from being this shy year 10 who’d never caught Adelaide public transport by myself to suddenly being in Tokyo on my own, navigating my way around this new, busy city and shooting for magazines and fashion brands. It was a whirlwind and a major learning experience. 

You have now been in the industry for nearly 10 years and have been on the cover of some of the world’s biggest magazines and walked on international runways for some of the world’s most iconic labels. What has been your biggest ‘pinch me’ moment?
Yes, almost 10 years now, it’s pretty crazy! To pick that one favourite job or moment is difficult, because they all mean so much to me, but up there would definitely be my Gucci campaign. Seeing it on the side of the Fifth Avenue Gucci store in New York City and in airports all around the world – so surreal. 

Tell us about being hand-picked by Anna Wintour for US Vogue.
What a highlight that was! The story featured redheads of the moment and to be considered with the likes of Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, Florence Welch and Julianne Moore was pretty crazy. Just a 16-year-old from Adelaide, picked by Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington to shoot with Annie Leibovitz (who has not only done portraits of the royal family, but almost every celebrity, too). This was one of the moments that really kick-started my career, so I’m extremely grateful. 

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The Suburban Wine and Ale Trail You Never Knew About

Adelaide’s only inner-city wine and ale trail brings together boutique wineries and microbreweries from the significant wine regions of South Australia like the Barossa, Adelaide Hills and the Limestone Coast. With each venue situated in the heart of the City of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters, you can pop in for an hour at each or stay in one spot the whole day. Here are some of our favourites. 

Ferg’s
8A Union Street, Stepney

The fit-out at Ferg’s is clean-cut, yet inclusive of vibrant timbers that warm up the space and bring life to the concrete floors. Deemed the ‘hidden gem of Stepney’, you best get there early on in the evenings to get your hands on whatever your drink is.

Lambrook Wines
4/2-20 Magill Road, Norwood

Lambrook Wines are the newer kids on the block. Converting a shipping container to a bar that serves some of the Adelaide Hills’ regionally distinct wines creates a unique experience for city dwellers.

Signature Wines
31 King Street, Norwood

Despite being located just a stone’s throw from the CBD, Signature Wines feels more like a winery. The wine barrel lights that hang from the beams of the rustic warehouse light the way to a small and cosy corner bar.

Little Bang Brewing Company
25 Henry Street, Stepney

What started off as an ambitious at-home brewery in a garage by two friends has evolved into what we know today as Little Bang Brewing Company. Little Bang boats a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere with a selection of drinks, including ale, wine and gin, and casual eats. 

Make-up Tips From Beauty Insider Ross Andrewartha

What are your tips for creating a dewy, flawless base?

Preparation is key. If you’re looking for that dewy, natural healthy look then you need to ensure you prep your skin well. I love to start by adding a essence in lotion into the morning routine, it really does give your skin that extra bounce and lift and creates a great base for make-up. Another way to add radiance to your skin before foundation is to use an illuminating primer. The Laura Mercier Radiance Primer really does the trick. My last tip would be to use the Mac Cosmetics Prep & Prime Essential Oils Stick, it provides instant hydration and is a great way to cheat your way to a radiant glow.

Eyes or foundation first?

Oh, this is a great question! It actually depends on the look. If I’m creating a natural look I always start with foundation (I love doing skin), but if I’m creating a red carpet look, which maybe slightly more dramatic, I would start with the eyes first as I want to ensure I spend as much time as possible to perfect this look.

What are three must-have make-up products everyone should own?

All day every day would be some type of base with SPF – Ultra Violette would my pick. Next would have to be bronzer (Nars Laguna); a bronzer is such a versatile product that can be used on the face to add colour, sculpt the skin, use as eye shadow or even on the body. Final product would be a mascara, it completes any look, it is like a blow wave for the lashes and helps give you a healthy look.

I have five minutes to do my make-up – what should I do?

This is my kind of make-up! Hydrate your skin well – this can totally change your day and how your skin looks. In winter I love using a serum-in-oil, it makes the skin look plump. Don’t forget SPF before starting your make-up [and] add a concealer to brighten under the eye area and chase any unwanted shades away. Instantly even out skin with a tinted moisturiser or BB cream for sheer, all over coverage or spot-apply a touch-up stick just where skin is red or uneven. Next step, press cream blush on the apples of the cheeks for a healthy, natural glow (choose a colour that looks like your cheeks when you pinch them – Mecca has some great ones for cheeks and lips). Add a touch of mascara to define the lashes with 1-2 coats. Finish with a quick swipe of lip colour – for a day look I tend to use the cream blush on the lips and at night a matte lippy (I love the Nars ones).

What is one of the biggest make-up mistakes people make?

Buying a foundation that their friend is wearing! Buying a foundation is so personal and you want to make sure you choose the right foundation that feels good and lasts on your skin type. A texture and colour can look great on your bestie and not sit well on your skin. It is so important to research and try the texture that works for you and to get colour matched in store before buying.

bareMinerals Complexion Rescue, $53, Mecca / DiorShow Iconic Overcurl Mascara, $56, Sephora


Interview by Alyssa Cairo