Stories in our Songs – Indigenous Musicians of the Northern Territory

Stories in our Songs – Indigenous Musicians of the Northern Territory (Stories) is a new screen work that illuminates the musical landscape of Australian Indigenous musicians across the Territory from the Central Desert region to the Top End. Through digital imagery, text, animations, footage, and audio, the work highlights Indigenous music and shares some special stories.

The exploration of gospel, rock, country, soul, and traditional Yolngu music reveals the triumphs, hardships, and joy articulated by the musicians and underlines the political, social, and cultural issues told as stories in the songs both past and present.

Music is an expression of culture and ideas. Building on this notion, Stories supports Indigenous musicians to tell their story in the way which they want it to be told. Musicians reconnecting with their family lineage through the celebration of song and music and the stories told by songs such as Land Rights by The Sunrize Band (1994), Jailanguru Pakarnu (Out of Jail) by Warumpi Band (1993) and Timeless Land by Yothu Yindi (1993) are still relevant today.

Warumpi Band in 1981

Warumpi Band, Papunya Hall 1981.
Pictured from left to right: Gordon Butcher (drums), Neil Murray (guitar/vocals), Sammy Butcher (guitar), Denis Minor (bass), the late G. R. Burarrwanga, (vocals/ percussion).
Photo courtesy of Neil Murray.

Sunrize Band

The Sunrize Band and the late G. R. Burarrwanga, Survival Concert, La Perouse, Sydney, 1993. Pictured from left to right: Ben Pascoe (vocals, guitar), Wayne Kala Kala (guitar vocal), the late Kenny Smith (guitar), Terry Pascoe (bass), Horace Wala Wala (didjeridoo, vocals, tamborine, clapsticks). Centre: the late G. R. Burarrwanga.
Photo courtesy of the Ellen Comiskey collection

This screen work will tour for a period of three years to festivals and communities within the Northern Territory and be screened at public events, and celebrations of Indigenous heritage nationally.

Artback NT: Arts Development and Touring

Regional Arts Fund