Born and based in Newcastle and the oldest of six, Jacob Ridgeway spent part of his childhood in his mother’s hometown of Dubbo before the family relocated back to his father’s home area of Port Stephens. Award-winning singer/songwriter/performing artist and proud Worimi and Gamilaroi man, Jacob credits the influential dose of 90’s/00’s Country and Hip-Hop/RnB that his mum would sing to him to provide a soundtrack to his uniquely inspired sound and storytelling. This soundtrack of life opened doors for Jacob's vocal versatility and writing as he began his steady rise as a performing artist.
“I taped over my parents' wedding video to watch Rage when I was three; Hustled burnt mixtapes out of my school bag in my free time for spending money; I was kicked out of my high school music class and didn’t think about singing let alone a career in music for another 10 years. I didn’t want to be that small-town shoulda-woulda-, coulda pub yarn. My late teens to early 20s had some intense moments that really tested me mentally. I finally felt empowered enough to leave everything I had ever known to become everything I have ever wanted to be.”
Jacob’s breakout performance came in 2014 when he was selected to sing “My Island Home” with the backing of the QPAC Choir and William Barton for the climax of the G20 Summit opening. Opportunities grew over time as Jacob paved his cross-genre path performing, opening, or collaborating with such artists as Jessica Mauboy, Troy Cassar-Daley, Ash Grunwald, The Last Kinection, Catherine Britt, Shannon Noll, James & John Morrison, Emily Wurramara, Urthboy, Mitch Tambo, Sally Walker, Sally Whitwell, Buddy Knox, Microwave Jenny, DOBBY, John Paul Young, Kevin Bennett, Thirsty Merc, Damien Leith, Archie Roach, Guy Sebastian, Emma Donovan, The Veronicas.
Jacob has performed at events such as QLD Music Festival, Jazz on the Green, X-Factor 2015, NRL All-Stars & Indigenous Rounds, 2018 Bleach Festival, 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Ceremonies, 2018 UON International Choral Tour in Canada, 2018 RUOK? Conversation Convoy, as well as various community events around the country.
“Music gives a definition to who we are. I love being able to share that and a piece of who I am with others. Music and writing give me a safe space to emote or share experiences or observations that surround my life.”
Jacob released his National Indigenous Story Award-winning debut single Bullyman in July 2019, which has charted on the iTunes Alternative Chart (#8) and the iTunes All Genres Chart (#69). Bullyman also charted on the 2021 (#53) and 2022 (#15) Triple A Original 100 Countdown and has been used in schools in his local area and around Australia in the school curriculum to assist in students’ education.
I'm Not Coming Home was released in February 2020, charted on the iTunes Alternative Chart (#22) and the iTunes All Genres Chart (#122). The brooding lyrics describe a journey of straying from one’s self while blending a demise derived from Jacob and his co-writer's own trials and tribulations. I'm Not Coming Home also charted on the 2022 (#13) Triple A Original 100 Countdown.
In between all this, Jacob has continually made room to improve by being a graduate of the Aboriginal Centre of Performing Arts (2014-2016), The Academy of Country Music (2016) and the University of Newcastle (Bachelor of Music - Distinction & Master of Creative Industries - Distinction).
Jacob has used the pandemic break to work on new music for release in 2023, inspired by his love of RnB melody, country storytelling and Hip-Hop production.