Legendary Aboriginal singer and songwriter Archie Roach will headline the “The Apology – Five Years On – Heal our Past, Build Our Future” free concert to be held on the lawns in front of Parliament House, Canberra on 13 February, 2013.
The concert is hosted by the Healing Foundation and celebrates the fifth anniversary of the historic Apology to the Stolen Generations and will run from 5.30pm to 10pm.
Archie, who will be playing at the concert with a host of other great Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers in the Black Arm Band, was one of the first musicians to shine a spotlight on the Stolen Generations with the release of his landmark song “Took The Children Away” in 1990 which won a Human Rights Achievement Award; the first time the award had ever been presented to a songwriter.
He is also a member of the Stolen Generations. As a young boy, Archie and his sisters were forcibly removed from their family and placed in an orphanage. While in foster care, he learnt to play guitar and keyboard.
In 1990, with the encouragement of singer Paul Kelly, Archie recorded his debut solo album, “Charcoal Lane”. This album included “Took The Children Away”, a moving indictment of the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children of his generation.
Archie says the Apology in 2008 was a step in the right direction – and the Healing Foundation who were set up by the Australian Government in response to the Apology are doing a great job to begin the healing with members of the Stolen Generations.
“Words can be cheap. There needs to be action to back up the Apology as well. It is a good thing to celebrate. I still feel good about it but some things need to be addressed. Communities are falling apart and innocent people have been suffering – the healing needs to be addressed in people.” Archie says.
Archie has been on his own healing journey in recording his new album – “Into The Bloodstream.”
“The last three years have been pretty hard. I have lost a partner, I had a stroke and I also had half a lung removed from lung cancer. So going into the studio and writing the type of songs I have and the process of recording the songs has been a healing process. The songs have a lot to do with over-coming problems and pain in your life rather than trying to hold onto it and for it to make you sick,” he says.
“Some things you will never get over but you have to find a positive way to channel that. This is what the album is about and hopefully listeners will find that too.”
“For a while I carried a lot of baggage that didn’t really belong to me and I had to give that baggage back to the people it belonged to. I had to channel it into something positive. I hope it will help other people. If your attitude turns around – it can help you to get better.”
He is looking forward to playing at the “The Apology – Five Years On – Heal our Past, Build our Future” concert on February 13.
“Music reaches everybody – black, white, brindle, old and young. It is also a catalyst for reconciliation,” he says.
“It is great to be playing in the Black Arm Band because they are a community of musicians. Murundak was the first show that we did. It includes my song “Took The Children Away” and Bart Willoughby’s “We Have Survived” – so it is a collection of protest songs, songs of resistance, struggle and strength.
“I hope some of the pollies come out and have a listen. It would be good if they did. I like going there (to Canberra) and it will be good to go there again.”
The Apology – Five Years On – Heal our Past, Build our Future is being hosted by the Healing Foundation, which was established on the first anniversary of the Apology to support culturally strong, locally run Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing programs around Australia to address the legacy of past policies and practices. The Healing Foundation also funds education and research on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing.
The Apology – Five Years On – Heal our Past, Build our Future will be held on Wednesday, 13 February, 2013 at Federation Mall, Parliament House from 5.30pm to 10pm. There will also be a space for Elders to relax and watch the main stage entertainment.
“Into The Bloodstream” is out now through Liberation Music. For more information visit http://www.archieroach.com.au/
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