Archie Roach statement

What a loss.

Archie Roach was proof that music could change lives and move hearts.

Music changed his life and his music changed Australia.

He was an elder, a storyteller, a songman and one of the most humble people I’ve met in my life.

Before he found music so many of the ingredients of his life had been harsh, even brutal.

He took all of that and used music to create beauty, truth telling and hope.

The first time I saw him play was at an ACTU Congress. The last time was at Woodford Folk Festival.

Every time I saw him perform the crowd would hang on his every word.

The re-recording of Tell Me Why with Paul Grabowsky was an all-encompassing reimagining of his early work. I’m so glad to have seen that live at Woodford.

His power wasn’t only in his music and lyrics. There was a depth of wisdom, momentum and healing with every word he spoke.

His mentoring and nurturing of the next generation of story tellers is also part of his great legacy.

The lead track on A.B. Original’s ‘Reclaim Australia’ features his spoken word and stories of activism – setting the scene for the energy of the music that would follow.

His collaboration with the next generation of artists lasted his entire life – up until a couple of weeks ago on Triple J’s Like A Version, when he performed a medley of Bob Marley hits with Becca Hatch and MARLON & RULLA.

The final words many Australians would have heard him sing were “get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight”.

Thank you Archie Roach.

Your strength, strengthened us all.

I extend my deepest sympathies to Archie’s family, particularly his sons Amos and Eban.