Australia’s leading arts and social change organisation Big hART presents Songs for Freedom, an uplifting collection of original songs created by Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi artists in the Pilbara town of Roebourne, together with guests. The album is the work of numerous songwriters, musicians and other creatives, coming together under the name The Freedom Collective. Produced by Grammy Award-winning musician (and long-time ABC Radio National presenter) Lucky Oceans (who was also a nominee at the recent Grammy’s, once again with his old band Asleep At the Wheel), Songs for Freedom features lead vocal contributions from Naomi Pigram, Patrick Churnside, Fred Ryan, Vikki Thorn (The Waifs), Kendall Smith, Kankawa Nagarra (Olive Knight), Jay Jarome and John Bennett.
Check out the single below – Little Town Big Heart (Feat Fred Ryan) from Songs For Freedom
The Songs for Freedom album was recorded from April to December of 2022, in Perth and in Roebourne. The album, which is being released to coincide with the first of a series of Songs for Freedom live concert events to take place throughout 2023, is a culmination of years of work. It has its foundations in workshops involving the family of John Pat, whose death in custody in Roebourne in 1983 triggered the Royal Commission into deaths in custody.
Since 2011, supported by Elders, these workshops, which took place in the Roebourne prison, school and community, have created music, theatre, performance and digital content, all with a view to promote positive stories being told about Roebourne. The project has resulted in about 100 songs to date, including those featured on the 2013 album Murru – and since 2018 it has delivered an annual Songs for Peace concert in Roebourne, at which community has had their songs sung by Paul Kelly, Vikki Thorn and Emma Donovan. Archie Roach sang in prison and at the first show in 2018. Other artists from outside the community who have been involved in the workshops include Brian Ritchie of the Violent Femmes and Bill Chambers.
The Songs for Freedom project, with its compelling songwriting and performances and lush and earthy instrumentation and production, sounds a positive note as we head towards the 40th anniversary of John Pat’s passing, and a national referendum.
Beyond that, Songs for Freedom has a simple and urgent purpose – to raise awareness and push for a change to the shockingly disproportionate number of Aboriginal young people caught up in the justice system.
ABOUT FRED RYAN & LUCKY OCEANS
Indigenous singer songwriter, loves to paint a picture in his lyrics, enjoys writing about real people and real- life stories. Fred put his new album together with the same guy as the first, his good mate and producer Peter Oats of Kitchen Cooked Records in Fremantle WA. Fred grew up in the outback listening to country music and his music reflects that. A powerful lyricist, he has contributed some significant songs and co-written a number of new works over the last few years, becoming an established member of The Freedom Collective
Lucky Oceans is a two-time Grammy Award winning musician, a fluent player of jazz, folk, blues and country styles. He has 10 years’ experience working in the Roebourne community and prison, songwriting and performing as part of the annual Songs for Peace concert. Lucky was born into a music-loving family in Philadelphia in 1951. He heard John Coltrane live, chauffeured Big Joe Williams and co-founded the group Asleep at the Wheel with whom he won 2 Grammy Awards and 7 Nominations. He is a musician with deep roots in many musical styles and a strong desire to communicate with his audience. He hosted the beloved and acclaimed Daily Planet on ABC RN for 21 years, is a former Australia Council Music Board Member and has played with Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Paul Kelly, Archie Roach and Hank Marvin. He writes music for film and television and is committed to pushing his instrument, the Pedal Steel Guitar, into new directions. He has been called ‘the most influential steel guitarist of his generation’ and was featured in Hugh Gregory’s book, ‘1000 Great Guitarists.’
Lucky plays many styles of music – jazz, blues, country, western swing, folk, bluegrass – but gets truly interested when the boundaries come down and pure music is being made in the moment. He is a proponent of true improvisation and hosted a TedX talk to explain it. Having experienced a stunningly wide range of music as a radio presenter and as a musician, he is involved in music at a high level in many different contexts and styles, but always with warmth, wit and erudition.
Lucky is set to tour Australia in October with his old band Asleep At The Wheel for the first time in October.
SONGS FOR FREEDOM by THE FREEDOM COLLECTIVE is out now on Big hART/ Remote Control.
Purchase or stream the digital release now at freedomcollective.lnk.to/songsforfreedom-lp or order the CD from https://www.bighart.org/product/songs-for-freedom-cd/