ARCHIE ROACH Perth Sorry Day Concert @ The Astor Theatre
with Beni Bjah, Gina Williams, Della Rae Morrison, Candice Lorrae, Chloe Maynard, The Madiitil Moorna Choir
Friday, May 26, 2017
Friday, May 26, 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of Bringing Them Home, the Australian Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families, now referred to as the Stolen Generations.
The people of Perth packed into The Astor Theatre in Mt Lawley to commemorate this event by joining in a concert of acclaimed indigenous artists led by the legendary Archie Roach.
The evening started with old footage (1984) of Lang Hancock projected onto the stage backdrop with a recording of his infamous statement about; “fixing the Aboriginal problem”. Fortunately, as a society, we have mostly evolved and moved on from that base level of thinking.
Bouncing onto the stage came Indigenous rapper and WAM Song of the Year winner Beni Bjah who strutted his stuff, delivering an energetic performance of Aboriginal lived experience. A fabulous young talent to watch and embrace.
As the audience relaxed the Rev Sealin Garlett delivered the Welcome to Country. Rev Garlett is a respected elder in the Noongar community and one of the best speakers of Noongar language.
With May 26 also being National Sorry Day, Steve Hammond read Kevin Rudd’s words of Apology. The energy of the appreciative applause reverberated through The Astor theatre.
Speaker for the evening was Jim Morrison who introduced the audience to YOKAI, a war cry, and an initiative for truth, justice and healing for the Stolen Generations and Victims of Abuse. Yokai has been set up to assist the Stolen Generations to move forward, with confidence, to their future. Co-convener Jim Morrison thanked the sponsors of Yokai, who generously donated tickets to the concert for people from the Stolen Generations, to attend.
Gina Williams (WAM Award Winner for Indigenous Act of the Year 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 and Finalist in Indigenous Category 2017 West Australian of the Year Awards), Della Rae Morrison, Candice Lorrae, all accomplished singers, entertained the audience with their dynamic voices and meaningful songs. They were accompanied on stage by guitarist Guy Ghouse.
The Madiitil Moorna Choir sang a moving rendition of the Sorry Song, amongst others. They provided the backing for Chloe Maynard, who beautifully sang the story of Pelican Girl, a journey in song, which honoured the life of Ruby, the late wife of Archie Roach.
After intermission, Archie Roach accompanied by Nancy Bates and his producer Craig Pilkington, took us on an historical journey of his family through storytelling and singing songs from his latest album, Let Love Rule; songs of substance, story and spirit. His voice haunting and captivating the audience, we were swept into another dimension of culture and being.
Archie’s story is similar, if not the same as many in the audience; one of generational abuse through the removal of babies and young children from their parents, taken to missions to be raised as white Australians. We heard about the fracturing of generations of Indigenous people and families, siblings separated; the repercussions still felt today through family breakdown and lost people. Over 100,000 Aboriginal children were taken from their parents and grandparents right up until 1970. For some, the search for family continues.
The commemoration acknowledged the sadness of the past, but the spirit and energy of the evening reflected love, forgiveness, reconciliation and above all, hope in a positive future.