Archie Roach is a singer and songwriter of remarkable strengths
and insights. A story teller in the tradition of his ancestors,
Archie relays and retells intimate real life stories as well as
traditional stories of the Dreaming. Having survived a personal
history that would have left most artists scarred and defeated,
Archie Roach has emerged as an extraordinarily gifted Australian
artist with a truly visionary talent.
Archie was born at Framlingham Aboriginal mission, located near
Warrnambool in southwestern Victoria. At any early age, Archie was
taken from his family, part of the stolen generation and spent quite
some time in institutions before being fostered by a non-Indigenous
family in Melbourne. Archie grew up and left home to find himself
and his people. He spent many years on the streets of Melbourne
and Adelaide searching for his identity and his place in the world.
Archie met up with Ruby Hunter, his lifelong partner during this
time and together they have made a home for their children and continue
to make music together.
In the late 1980's Archie formed Altogether, a band of emerging
Aboriginal musicians who played at community festivals and functions
in and around Melbourne.
In 1990, Archie recorded Charcoal Lane. Produced by Paul
Kelly and Steve Connolly, This album featured the Aboriginal anthem
Took the Children Away. This song tells of the forced separation
of children from their parents, as was done to thousands of Aboriginal
children during the implementation of the government's assimilation
policies. Many Aboriginal people identify strongly with the story
carried by this song. It won two Aria Awards and a Human Rights
Award. It was the first time a Human Rights award had been presented
to a songwriter. It was in the US Rolling Stone's Top 50 albums
for 1992. It has now gone gold in Australia.
In 1992 Archie recorded Jamu Dreaming, Released in 1993,
this album was recorded with musical assistance from David Bridie,
Tiddas, Paul Kelly, Linda and Vika Bull and Joe Geia. Jamu Dreaming
was nominated for an Aria Award in 1994 and was in Australia's Top
Released in July 1997, Archie's latest recording, Looking for
Butter Boy was recorded on his traditional lands at Port Fairy
in South-Western Victoria. This album was produced by internationally
acclaimed producer Malcolm Burn who says that he'd " ... definitely
put Archie in with the great singers. There's not many of them in
the world, I think there might be 30". This album won three
Aria Awards in 1998.
Over the past decade Archie has consistently and extensively toured
Australia including participating in regional Indigenous cultural
festivals in every state. As with many Indigenous artists, Archie
has contributed to many benefit concerts and to raising awareness
about issues of equality and justice that affect the whole community.
Archie has toured with Paul Kelly, Weddings Parties Anything, Crowded
House and international artists Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne
Vega and Patti Smith.
In 1992 Archie toured America, supporting Joan Armatrading and
Bob Dylan returning there in 1993 as invited guests at Austin's
South X South West music convention. In 1993, Archie featured at
the Corroboree Festival in London's Southbank Centre and returned
in 1994 to tour the UK and Germany.
In May 1995 Archie, along with Ruby Hunter, Tiddas and Kev Carmody
toured to Canada's Music West Convention in Vancouver and travelled
on to Europe for a major European tour. In 1997 Archie returned
to Europe and went on to tour China, Japan and Taiwan. He then undertook
a 6 week tour of remote Aboriginal communities in Cape York.
In 1994, Harpers Collins published an anthology of Archie's lyrics
called You Have the Power. In 1999 Archie completed a feature
documentary on the stolen generation. Land of Little Kings
will air on SBS in May 2000 and be screened overseas. He is planning
to record his fourth album in early 2000.