Not many have lived as many lives – from stolen child, teenage alcoholic, seeker, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, to social advocate and First Nations leader – but it took almost a lifetime to find who he really was. He is the inimitable Archie Roach.
In 1990 Roach released the certified gold, double-ARIA Album Charcoal Lane with the single Took the Children Away, shining a stark light on the impact of the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. Its impact was immediate and it heralded the emergence of a major new artist: a keen observer and poet whose songs demonstrate the healing power of music.
Since then he has earned the love and respect of fans worldwide; faced the sudden death of his soul mate and muse of 38 years, Ruby Hunter; survived a debilitating stroke and lung cancer; been declared a Member of the Order of Australia and 2020 Victorian of the Year and shared the stage with fellow troubadours Patti Smith, Paul Simon, Joan Armatrading, Rodriguez and Leonard Cohen.
In 2020 he recorded and released The Songs of Charcoal Lane album. Working with trusted musicians Stephen Magnusson, Sam Anning and recording engineer Hadyn Buxton, at his home on his mother’s ancestral Gunditjmara country, Roach has re-imagined the timeless, classic, heart-wrenching songs, 30 years on.
Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2020, Roach also won Best Male Artist and Best Adult Contemporary Album at the ARIAs and Double J Australian Artist of the Year.
The Songs of Charcoal Lane will be the nucleus of his WOMADelaide farewell performance, marking his seventh appearance at the festival since 1992 – a record!