Radical Son


Radical Son Effortlessly crossing genres from soul to hip-hop and beyond, Radical Son is a standout vocalist and songwriter like no other. His often-poignant lyrics chart a course from hopelessness to healing; mercilessly deconstructing what is, and forever imagining what could be. Radical Son's music and stories are always guided by his Indigenous heritage from the Kamilaroi nation of Australia and the south pacific nation of Tonga.

As a vocalist, Radical Son has a unique ability to deliver as a soul singer, rapper and spoken word artist. This natural dexterity defines his earned place and presence in the contemporary musical landscape. The back-bone of radical son's stories continuously urge our human spirit to approach life through love and compassion.

David Leha spent half his time in some of Australia's toughest prisons in solitary confinement for bashing guards. He was a heroin addict by his release at 21. In his late 30s, the singer-songwriter who goes by the name Radical Son wants to share the hard lessons learned since he emerged from Long Bay, Goulburn and Parramatta jails.

Though he has found strength in music, life is still a struggle. "That concerns me," he says, "because of all the help that I have had, all the natural gifts that I have. I think about those who don't have either of these ..." Leha will draw on insights that helped him end his addiction and change his life, "I think it's important to help others by letting them know they are not alone and that I've done the things that they have done."

"I feel very honoured to work with Archie," he says. "It feels like I have been accepted into a family and that is (something) that I needed deep down."

Imprisonment had been hardest on his family. "At 19, you are in that period where you're young and not only are you not very knowledgeable but your body can handle it, the drinking and drugs." Cause & Affect came out in September. He says he was jailed after retaliating when someone broke the mirror of his minivan. He spent half his 18 months - the first six months and last three - in solitary confinement for assaulting prison guards.

"Jail made me a worse person," he says. "I was in a place with people who do bad things and we kind of bounced off each ... and even on the outside it kind of continued."

He has eight children, aged nearly two to 16. He had the name of his mother's people, the Kamilaroi of NSW, tattooed on his back after the birth of a daughter in the late 1990s. "I needed to go and find culture," Leha says. He was 23 at the time and wanted a cultural connection for his children. "I have suffered and caused much suffering," he says between songs on an early version of the album. "I am convinced that these experiences could have been prevented. As a parent I know what it is like to want a better life for our children."

Leha's Tongan father is a Sydney taxi driver; his mother is a former CEO of one of NSW's Aboriginal land corporations. Her parents kept on the move to prevent her being "stolen". She, in turn, relocated on several occasions with him and a younger brother. The name Radical Son, "just comes from me knowing and always feeling that I was different in moving around quite a bit and (that) survival comes with trying to fit in". His mother wasn't familiar with Kamilaroi ways. "My mum didn't get taught her culture and unfortunately as a young boy I did not have a lot of respect."

Now he values ceremonial rites of passage he believes might have helped him and has "a deep respect for our old culture and the lessons of Aboriginal people". Singing came late after producers heard an unplanned rap verse at a recording session for a friend. He has two previous releases, a self-titled EP in 2005 and another, Black Stones, in 2008.

Archie Roach sees something of himself in the younger musician.
"I was a teenage drunk on the street. At one point in my life I had to make a decision whether to go down the same old road - I probably wouldn't be here - or turn my life around. I certainly see that in young David."
He was impressed when Leha questioned him carefully before singing a song - Ain't No Time For Me To Ever Complain - at a tribute concert for his late partner Ruby Hunter. "He's a deep man," Roach says. "He thinks about that stuff." .

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Last Month's Talent Kutcha-Edwards,0.png, 70kB

Kutcha Edwards Born on the banks of the Murrumbidgee Rivers at Balranald, New South Wales, Kutcha is among the many of the Stolen Generations, taken from his family at 18 months and placed in government institutions in Melbourne. It wasn't until Kutcha was 14 that he was reunited with his family in Traralgon.

Recording his debut album Cooinda, in 2002 with friends Paul Hester, Paul Kelly and David Bridie, Kutcha followed it up in 2007 with Hope, co-produced with Richard Pleasance.

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