IT was six years ago that Port Stephens singer Jacob Ridgeway bought his first microphone, packed in his social work career and pursued his passion for music.
That decision has led the 29-year-old to some amazing opportunities. There was the chance to sing at the 2014 G20 Summit in Brisbane and perform with Jessica Mauboy before an NRL All-Stars game. Then came opportunities to work with Troy Cassar-Daley, Catherine Britt, and finally, Kevin Bennett.
It was the latter which resulted in Ridgeway's proudest accomplishment to date, his debut single Bullyman. The track was co-written with Bennett at a DAG Sheep Station Writers Retreat in 2017 and on Friday the song will finally be released to coincide with NAIDOC Week.
Bullyman was inspired by the story of Ridgeway's auntie, who was taken from her family as a small child during the Stolen Generation. She was reunited with her family only a decade ago.
Ridgeway has long been aware of Bullyman's impact, having performed the song across Australia as an R U OK ambassador and even in Canada.
"It's a song where I could see the emotional grasp," the proud Worimi and Gamilaroi man said this week. "I just checked my Facebook before and someone left a comment on there that he was crying. It was that emotional for him to hear.
"To hear that has been amazing and performing this morning at Newcastle's NAIDOC event and to have the same response, especially from my own community, it means the world."
Ridgeway began in the country scene, but he said studying a Bachelor of Music at the Newcastle Conservatorium inspired him to expand the scope of Bullyman by mixing traditional Indigenous sounds, with R'n'B and even a children's lullaby.
"Over the last few years studying music and appreciating it in all its forms, I got to see how I can incorporate other things to the track, which has been the really cool thing about the Bullyman song," he said.
"I like the juxtaposition of it all. Having a modern contemporary take of the traditional people and a contemporary story with the haunting lullaby from a toy piano."