Songs For Freedom album and concert tour

Songs For Freedom album and concert tour urges an end to incarceration of Indigenous youth

Rhiannon Clarke – February 19, 2023


The Freedom Collective. Photo credit: Joseph Penipe.

Leading arts and social change organisation Big hART and The Freedom Collective launched a new album, Songs for Freedom, on Friday, featuring music by Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi artists in Roebourne WA and produced by two-time Grammy winner Lucky Oceans.The mission and message of the album is to raise awareness and encourage change to the drastic over-incarceration of Indigenous youth and children in Australia.Naomi Pigram, Patrick Churnside, Fred Ryan, Vikki Thorn, Kendall Smith, Kankawa Ngarra, Jay Jarome and John Bennett were among the artists involved.The album launch comes ahead of the Songs for Freedom Concert at the Mona Foma festival in Hobart this Thursday.The Songs for Freedom Concert will also feature at Perth Festival on 5 March and return home for a performance in Roebourne on 23 September, among other concert dates in 2023.The album, recorded in Perth and Roebourne, is the work of numerous songwriters, musicians and other creative artists, coming together under the name The Freedom Collective. “Yamatji man Fred Ryan came to a songwriting workshop with this song and the Elders loved it,” said Oceans. “The lyrics contained the line, ‘There’s a song for this land, girt by sea.’ I wondered, ‘why repeat the worst line of the national anthem?’ but Fred explains in the next line, ‘I want to hear a song for me’.”Highlighting how a national song could mean so much more for him and other Aboriginal people. This song has now become an anthem in its own right.” The foundations of The Freedom Collective were laid in workshops involving the family of John Pat, whose violent death in police custody in Roebourne in 1983 ultimately led to the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody. Since 2011 workshops in Roebourne supported by Elders have seen strong community involvement in creating music, theatre, performance and digital content, with a view to promote positive stories being told about the town and its people.  “The Songs for Freedom concert is a full-hearted collaboration – an ongoing process of creation with the community of Roebourne for more than ten years,“ said Oceans. “The people of Roebourne have shared their voices, music and songs so generously and really bring a sense of community to the stage. It’s a unique and inspiring thing to be a part of.”