Archie Roach


Archie Roach

Archie Roach


Roach, a Gunditjmara Bundjalung man, was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his "significant service to the performing arts as a singer, song-writer and guitarist, and to the community as a spokesman for social justice".

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the release of his debut solo album, Charcoal Lane, which featured his breakthrough song Took the Children Away. The song shared Roach's experience as a member of the Stolen Generations, a part of Australia's history that he said many people did not know about at the time. "I remember when I first started to perform it at shows and concerts and people first started to hear about it, they'd come up to me," he said. "They weren't aware of this happening, it was something they weren't taught in school I suppose. "Not many people were aware of the policy of removing people from their families." Roach said that he was honoured to be included in the awards "as an indigenous first nations Australian".

"From my own perspective, I think music has a way of drawing people in, more so than other forms of political endeavour," he said. In 2008, Roach spoke about the first time he went to the Australian Recording Industry Awards, in 1991. "Me and Ruby [Hunter] pulled up in this car, you know, and people screaming, yelling, and me and Ruby jumped out and it just went real quiet," he said, in an interview with his late-partner Ruby Hunter. "It just went real quiet because they looked at these two Aboriginal people you know, walking down the red carpet. "Who the hell are these people? But the end of that day, the end of that night, I'd received the best Indigenous album, I thought that's OK; best Indigenous album, best new talent. But it made you feel welcome ... made me feel like they'd recognised something that I'd done."

He said there had been some progress for the Stolen Generations since he wrote and performed the song for the first time, particularly with former prime minister Kevin Rudd's apology in 2008. "[For the Stolen Generations], it's changed in the sense of people being aware of it, and a lot of older people that were part of the Stolen Generation were working towards healing and since the apology, it's helped us to move on," he said. But he said there was still a lot of work to be done. "I think we can work towards healing, but there are some people that have been so damaged that they've become sick, mentally, and we need to address what we can do for those people," he said. "How do we help them - we can't repair the damage that's been done - we need to compensate people in some way, whether it be financially, or just to help with their repatriation." Roach has also supported the group Recognise, part of Reconciliation Australia, which calls for recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution as an essential next step in reconciling Australia's past.




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Last Month's Talent

Fitzroy Xpress

Fitzroy Xpress

Back in 1982 at the Aboriginal mission in the Kimberley's remote one horse town of Fitzroy Crossing, teenager Danny Marr won his first talent quest playing guitar and singing country music.
The grand prize consisted of a tin of spaghetti, a tin of baked beans and a place in the local band which became Fitzroy Xpress "Aboriginal Australia's favourite country rockers".


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