Archie Roach is normally the gentlest of our Indigenous protest singers. He writes songs of great moral force and clarity but his voice, even after the ravages of age and illness, is quiet and hymnal, giving his work a bittersweet quality that allows him to connect easily with a broad audience.
The song that introduced him to most Australians, Took The Children Away, remains the one for which he is most famous. Its opening lines are:
“This story’s right, this story’s true
I would not tell lies to you.”
The song was released in 1990, when few of us knew about the stolen generations of Aboriginal children. Its impact was profound, on both Indigenous people, who finally heard their intergenerational trauma being articulated with such grace on a national stage, and on white Australia. By itself, it may not have precipitated the royal commission that produced the Bringing Them Home report, or then prime minister Kevin Rudd’s national apology in February 2008. But its resonance was crucial. Like Yothu Yindi’s Treaty, released the following year, it did what great protest songs do: it started a conversation.
Uncle Archie is an elder now and, on AB Original’s album from last year, Reclaim Australia – which won two Arias on Tuesday night – he brought his considerable gravitas to the album’s opening monologue.… Read more..