Performers at Blue Mountains Music Festival 2019
The Archie Roach
When his debut album Charcoal Lane was released in 1990, the impact was immediate. The album’s centrepiece, Took the Children Away, shone a spotlight on the impact of the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from their families and brought it to the attention of the global community. The single won an international Human Rights Achievement Award, while the album was certified gold and won two ARIA Awards.
The release of the album also introduced audiences to Archie’s own extraordinary story. As one of the Stolen Generations removed under these government policies, Archie grew up in foster homes and met his partner, Ruby Hunter, while living on the streets. The pair, who shared a deep love of music, formed a lifelong bond.
Over the following decade, Archie consolidated his success with three more albums – Jamu Dreaming (1993), Looking for Butter Boy (1997) and Sensual Being (2002). Looking for Butter Boy and Sensual Being were nominated for ARIA Awards, with Butter Boy winning two.
In early 2010, Archie’s life took a dramatic turn with Ruby’s sudden death. Struggling to cope with the loss of his soul mate, Archie suffered a massive stroke that left him temporarily paralysed along his right side, unable to talk, walk or play his guitar. After intensive rehabilitation, Archie briefly returned to performing. In 2011 he was diagnosed with cancer and was facing an operation to remove half of his lung.
Hailed in many quarters as a rebirth, in 2012 Archie returned with a new album, Into the Bloodstream. Archie Roach’s latest album, Let Love Rule was released on 23 September 2016.
Musically, his work continues to be recognised locally and internationally. He has collaborated with the finest musicians in the country, including Paul Kelly, Emma Donovan, Troy Cassar-Daley, Christine Anu, Vika and Linda Bull, Shane Howard and Dan Sultan. He has toured with some of the world’s most iconic artists, including Leonard Cohen, Rodriguez, Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, Billy Bragg, Paul Simon, Joan Armatrading, Suzanne Vega and Patti Smith.
Three decades after the release of Charcoal Lane, Archie’s work continues to explore universal themes of love, friendship, family, country and community.