BIG hART AND THE FREEDOM COLLECTIVE PRESENTS SONGS FOR FREEDOM
NEW ALBUM PRODUCED BY GRAMMY-AWARD WINNER LUCKY OCEANS RELEASED FEBRUARY 17, AHEAD OF SONGS FOR FREEDOM CONCERT PERFORMANCES AT MONA FOMA AND PERTH FESTIVAL
NEW COLLECTION SUPPORTS CAMPAIGN TO LOWER THE INCARCERATION RATES OF ABORIGINAL CHILDREN
FIRST SINGLE “SONGS OF FREEDOM”, FEATURING FRED RYAN, OUT TODAY
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 Lucky Oceans, 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.
The February 17 release of Songs for Freedom is preceded by the release today of the first single from the album, “Songs of Freedom”, written and sung by Fred Ryan.
“Yamatji man Fred Ryan came to a songwriting workshop with this song and the Elders loved it,” says Songs for Freedom Musical Director and album producer Lucky Oceans of the single. “The lyrics contained the line, ‘There’s a song for this land, girt by sea.’ I wondered, ‘why repeat the worst line of the national anthem?’ but Fred explains in the next line, ‘I want to hear a song for me,’ highlighting how a national song could mean so much more for him and other Aboriginal people. This song has now become an anthem in its own right.”
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 release of the Freedom Collective’s Songs for Freedom album on February 17 comes just days ahead of a Songs for Freedom concert on February 23 at Mona Foma Festival in Hobart. The Collective will then take its music to the Perth Festival on March 5, eventually returning home to Roebourne for a show on September 23. Performances in other capital cities and regional centres are being planned. A pilot Songs for Freedom concert in 2021, hosted by the City of Melville in South Perth, attracted an audience of 3000.
“The Songs for Freedom concert is a full-hearted collaboration – an ongoing process of creation with the community of Roebourne for more than ten years,“ explains Oceans. “The people of Roebourne have shared their voices, music and songs so generously and really bring a sense of community to the stage. It’s a unique and inspiring thing to be a part of.”
Further details for the two upcoming concerts can be found at these sites:
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.
SONGS FOR FREEDOM by THE FREEDOM COLLECTIVE is released FEBRUARY 17 on Big hART/ Remote Control.
Pre-order/pre-save the digital release now at
freedomcollective.lnk.to/songsforfreedom-lpor pre-order the CD from www.bighart.org/product/songs-for-freedom-cd-pre-sale
First single, “SONGS OF FREEDOM” (featuring FRED RYAN) is now available digitally from: freedomcollective.lnk.to/songsoffreedom