Thursday, November 23, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
A musical movement that is aimed at not only raising awareness of our local indigenous culture but also healing the wounds of the past, is alive and singing in the Whitsundays, led by two inspiring local musos.
The collaboration of artists Adrian Thomas and Uncle Harold Bowen has seen indigenous stories translated into meaningful music with heartfelt compassion and true storytelling.
The pair have been working together for several months, Adrian writes the lyrics from the stories Uncle Harold tells and together they create beautiful music that has resonated in the hearts of many.
So far, five songs have been recorded alongside David Hudson, who is one of the best didgeridoo players in Australia, and Yothu Yindi drummer, Ben Hakalitz.
Adrian has spent a lot of time in Melbourne where he was a social worker, heavily involved with helping underprivileged indigenous children live their best life.
“I’ve spent a long time working in Aboriginal communities and I’ve seen firsthand the human rights that are lacking in these communities,” he explained.
“The lack of clean drinking water, the lack of affordable fresh fruit, lack of housing and base level care.”
Adrian has travelled all over the country connecting with indigenous communities and most recently moved down from Cairns to the live in the Whitsundays.
After meeting Harry Bowen, Adrian says he was saddened to hear the story of the Ngaro Gia people who had been displaced from their land many years ago.
The dream time story he was told shows how many indigenous families were killed and only those strong enough to be slaves were saved.
These Ngaro/Gia survivors cut the trees to build Proserpine and after the work was done, they were shipped up north to do the same in Yarrabah and Hopevale.
This pain anguish, but also the pathway to healing and recovery is explored in the music, most notably in the song, “Milbi" which is the lead track of the release.
“It’s a healing journey from what happened early on but also rediscovering and reconnecting with culture and power,” he shared.
“But it is not only the healing of Aboriginal people, it is also the healing of us as colonisers, as white people, of our ancestors who came here and did some really horrible things.”
As part of the musical journey, Adrian is also advocating for a monument or landmark to pay homage to the past, connect the story and offer a place where people can gather to understand and acknowledge our local indigenous’ culture.
At the same time, Adrian and Harold Bowen are also visiting Cannonvale State School next month to share their story and work with students to create a documentary.
They will be accompanied by Vino with Lateo Films, an Australian filmmaker based in Cairns.
During the visit, the trio plan to work with students to share some of the Ngaro/Gia history, play music with them and organise and involve students in a traditional dance workshop.
Once the film has been completed it will be entered into festivals worldwide and following that it is likely the film will end up on a streaming platform or TV.
Bringing voice and volume to the indigenous story, these inspiring local characters are sharing a meaningful cultural dialogue through the purity of song.
Local inspiring musician, Adrian Thomas. Photo supplied