so much to sing about

murundak: the black arm band soon at WOMADelaide 2008

Archie Roach, The Black Arm Band,

Archie Roach, The Black Arm Band,

IN TUNE WITH THE RECONCILIATION BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE AUSTRALIANS SIGNALLED BY THE FEDERAL PARLIAMENT’S APOLOGY TO THE STOLEN GENERATIONS, WOMADELAIDE 2008 FEATURES ONE OF THE HITS OF THE MELBOURNE AND SYDNEY FESTIVALS, MURUNDAK: BLACK ARM BAND.

Prime Minister Rudd’s comprehensive apology included lucid retorts to the denials, obfuscations and distortions of the warriors of the culture wars and their anti-’black arm band’ rhetoric. The name Black Arm Band for this impressive group of black and white musicians deftly mocks the labelling, at the same time acknowledging the reality of grief, and signalling that Indigenous culture is truly alive because that’s what Murundak means in the Woiwurrung language—alive.

Originally commissioned by the 2006 Melbourne International Arts Festival and produced by Arts House, Murundak brings black and white performers together in a 30-strong band, blending live performance with projections of iconic images from Indigenous culture and poltical encounters between black and white Australians.

Many of the songs too are iconic, including Shane Howard’s Solid Rock, Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly’s From Little Things Big Things Grow, Yothu Yindi’s Treaty, Neil Murray’s My Island Home, Archie Roach’s Took the Children Away, Tiddas’ Koorie Woman and Ruby Hunter’s Down City Streets. Doubtless there’ll be much singing along and memorable reinterpretations of classics.

The powerful Black Arm Band lineup includes Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Bart Willoughby, Stephen Pigram, Peter Rotumah, Kutcha Edwards, didjeridu virtuoso Mark Atkins, Lou Bennett, Joe Geia, Shellie Morris, Emma Donovan, Dan Sultan, well-known actors Ursula Yovich and Rachael Maza-Long, and musical directors David Arden and Shane Howard, as well as guest John Butler.

Coming so soon after ‘sorry day’, Murundak’s appearance at WOMADelaide will be a double celebration, of a rich cultural history embodied in song traditional and modern, and as a confirmation of the bridging of cultures promised in the beginnings of reconciliation. RT

WOMADelaide, Botanic Park, Adelaide, March 7-9 www.womadelaide.com.au

RealTime issue #83 Feb-March 2008 pg. 48

© RealTime; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 February 2008