When Dr Gordi met Dr Coleman: why the medico singer wanted to meet with our chief health officer

Dr Kerryn Coleman and Gordi aka Dr Sophie Payten meet in Canberra on Friday night. Picture: Matt Loxton
Dr Kerryn Coleman and Gordi aka Dr Sophie Payten meet in Canberra on Friday night. Picture: Matt Loxton

Before her gig at the Canberra Theatre on Friday night, Australian singer-songwriter Gordi met with the ACT's chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman. It was a special meeting of minds.

Gordi, real name Sophie Payten, is also a junior doctor who went back to medicine during the coronavirus pandemic, working as a locum in hospitals in Victoria.

"I've been doing general medicine to stroke rehab and it's basically been a bit dependent hospital to hospital how it's been," she said.

"One of the hospitals I was in was very under control, another hospital I spent time in had massive staff shortages because there were huge numbers of staff exposed to COVID. I was kind of dropped into this place I'd never been before with no knowledge of it with not a lot of extra staff there."

The 27-year-old is also completing a masters of public health after the pandemic put her live gigs on hold.

"I was supposed to be touring all this year, so I thought, 'What else can I do with my time'? And it was topical," she said.

Gordi had requested to meet Dr Coleman and the pair met after work before the gig.

"The work of chief health officers in state and territories has been just incredible this year," Gordi said.

Her Canberra gig came at the end of a week of live performances along the east coast, her first "to real people with a band" in 18 months. She would be back to medicine next week.

 Dr Coleman was thrilled to hear Gordi was studying for a masters in public health. Picture: Matt Loxton

Dr Coleman was thrilled to hear Gordi was studying for a masters in public health. Picture: Matt Loxton

"I was in Canberra a few months ago travelling to Melbourne to start working and everything was descending into chaos and I'm heading back to Victoria [on Saturday] to do more medical work but this time it feels much more upbeat and positive and people have been putting in their best effort to get over the wave," Gordi said.

Dr Coleman was happy to have a performer of the calibre of Gordi performing as the live music industry in Canberra gradually returned to normal.

"Arts and music and entertainment have gone on a bit of a journey like the rest of us," she said.

"We started way back in March and April when we weren't really allowed to do anything and now we've gradually opened things up, progressively.

"I think one of the challenges has been how to balance that public health risk with that relative unknown quantity still happening. But also recognising the importance [of the arts] for the economy, and also people's lives and our sense of community."

A socially-distanced audience of 250 was at Friday night's gig, the first major contemporary music performance in the Canberra Theatre since the pandemic shut down live venues in May.

Canberra Theatre Centre director Alex Budd said it was fantastic to welcome back larger audiences.

"It's just great to see people in the theatre. It reminds what you what it's all about, a large group of people having a good time together," he said.

Mr Budd said the theatre centre had been working closely with Dr Coleman and her team to stage the return to full capacity.

"And it's just great the audience is responding so strongly," he said.

The Wharf Revue in December had proved especially popular, with another week of tickets going on sale on Monday.

This story When Dr Gordi met Dr Coleman first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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