Luke Escombe

Ambassador for Crohn's and Colitis Australia
Luke Escombe is an award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, and comedian who has turned his 25 years of living with chronic illness into inspiration for his art.

Growing up in London, with a Rock and Roll Dad who worked in the music business, Luke’s dreams of rock stardom suffered a serious blow at the age of 14 when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. After spending long stretches of his 20’s either housebound or heavily medicated,  Luke finally launched his first album as a singer-songwriter at the age of 30, only to end up in hospital again a few months later, requiring blood transfusions to live through the night. His life since that time has been a remarkable transformation, driven by a change in values and a fundamental resetting of his relationship with himself, his creativity, and his art.

Luke’s breakthrough as a writer/performer came in 2011 with his one-man show “Chronic”, which combined multiple music styles with candid stand-up comedy about his many hospital stays. It was Luke’s ticket to festivals all over Australia, and the start of his unexpected journey into health advocacy.

The follow-up to “Chronic” was a kids band called “The Vegetable Plot”, which played its first show at the 2014 Sydney Fringe. After years of speaking about illness, The Vegetable Plot was Luke's way of making a fresh start: writing songs and playing music for kids, families, and foodies with an emphasis on having fun and being healthy. The Vegetable Plot won the award for Best Kid’s show at the Fringe and has since played at major events all over Australia, including The National Folk Festival, Woodford, Sydney Festival and Splendour in the Grass. The band signed a deal with ABC Kids in 2019 and received an ARIA nomination in 2020 for their most recent album, Season Two.

Luke is an ambassador for Crohn's and Colitis Australia and The Gut Foundation, a member of the NSW Arts Advisory Panel and a teaching artist with the Sydney Opera House's Creative Leadership in Learning Program. He has spoken three times at Parliament House in Canberra, as well as at the New Zealand National Museum in Wellington, the National Medicines Symposium, the Patient Experience Symposium, and at conferences, workshops, support groups, award ceremonies and training seminars across the country.

2017 saw him crossing the Pacific for the first time, telling his story at events in Chicago and Miami for Johnson & Johnson. His work was recognised at the end of the year by WEGO Health, who named him as the winner of their “Hilarious Patient Leader” award. Since then, Luke has received standing ovations on four continents for his unique mix of storytelling, music, humour and insight into the patient experience. In 2019 he collaborated with Crohn’s and Colitis Australia to launch the podcast series The Bottom End, and followed that up at the end of 2020 with a new podcast - “Chronic” - made in collaboration with the US-based Gali Health app. 

Luke was once described by John Shand in the Sydney Morning Herald as a “rock-soul singer, raconteur, blistering blues guitarist, comedian and songwriter...and very good at them all”, and is most often described by himself as the Mick Jagger of inflammatory bowel disease. He is also the ever-so-exceedingly humble owner of "Sydney's sexiest man voice", a title he scooped in a phone poll on a popular radio station.

Luke lives on Sydney’s northern beaches with his wife and son.

LINKS

Watch Luke’s “Master Key” comedy-music video about living with IBD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDBjI_Rqqm4

Luke’s website: https://www.lukeescombe.com/

The Vegetable Plot website: https://www.thevegetableplot.com.au/

Luke’s “Chronic” Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/luke-escombe/sets/chronic-podcast

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