Archie Roach Biography
Archie Roach, Australia’s beloved Aboriginal singer and songwriter – the voice of his people and the voice of many other people too – has a new lease of life. Literally. And it has manifested in his new songs, this wondrous new album and the accompanying live show.
In 2010 Archie suffered immeasurably. Most will know by now that the venerable and dignified performer, who captured the hearts and minds of a nation in 1990 with Charcoal Lane and the landmark song Took The Children Away, lost his partner and soul mate Ruby Hunter. It was February 2010; she was only 54.
Archie’s grief was immense. Later that year found himself up in the Kimberley, at a place called Turkey Creek, 800 km or so east of Broome in amongst the Bungle Bungles when he himself suffered a stroke.
He was taken by Flying Doctor to Broome then Perth and went into heavy rehabilitation, which left parts of his body, including one of his hands, inert. In mid 2011 Archie was diagnosed with the early stages of lung cancer. He got half a lung removed and again went into heavy rehabilitation.
It could be said that through his long and distinguished career Archie has sung of suffering, pain and injustice in a manner more effective than most. But that’s not what has happened in the aftermath of his horrible year in 2010. Instead he has turned to joy and hope and the idea of lifting himself and others up through song. As his body recovers so too does his mind.
The brand new album Into The Bloodstream – and the life affirming live shows of the same name –is about, he says “finding strength” and then expressing it.
“Overcoming difficulties,” he says, “and singing more uplifting songs that are not so much about suffering and pain but rising above that. Going through what I have has made me realise that a big part of people getting sick has to do with holding onto pain and not letting it go. That was the inspiration behind it all. Letting go of the pain and the bad stuff and holding onto something good and strong.”
The live shows – infused with good doses of uplifting gospel and soul stirrings – are also in many ways the story of Roach’s life, spanning his childhood, his stolen years and his long love for Ruby.
There will be a star-studded thirteen-piece musical ensemble under the direction of Craig Pilkington (Audrey Studios), who has produced and arranged the album, plus a ten-voice gospel choir headed by Lou Bennett from Tiddas and the Black Arm Band. Lighting and visuals will be curated by the accomplished Tim Cole.
Liberation Music’s Managing Director Warren Costello says: “We set out to help Archie create a landmark album in what has already been an amazing career. Michael Gudinski and I have drawn incredible strength and inspiration from Archie Roach and from Ruby Hunter over many, many years. It is once again our pleasure and privilege to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Archie to launch this new album which we truly believe is amongst his best work.”
Archie says the album – and these majestic shows – are his good medicine. Straight Into The Bloodstream.
Into The Bloodstream will be released through Liberation Music on Friday October 19th, 2012.