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Remembering Uncle Archie Roach

Media Published Monday 1 August 2022
Archie Roach (Photograph by Phil Nitchie)

Statement on behalf of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Office and APRA AMCOS

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Office and APRA AMCOS would like to send our most sincerest condolences to the Roach and Hunter families and the Gunditjmara and Bundjalung people who are mourning the loss of their iconic song man and senior Elder.

Archie Roach
or Uncle Arch as so many of us lovingly refer to him, was a prolific songwriter and interpreter of song. His career spanned more than 30 years, over eight albums, and countless awards and he has contributed more songs to the Australian canon than many other writers could dream of. He carried his people and their stories with him wherever he went and we are all richer as a musical community because of the many truths he revealed about our shared history through his songs.

“As an organisation that exists to recognise and support the songwriter and the song, we celebrate the life of a man who fought adversity throughout his life to become one of our country's greatest songwriters and storytellers. Uncle Archie shared his story and the stories of many, simply and clearly – stories that were difficult to tell and hard to hear. Uncle Archie was already a national treasure, and his voice has never been more poignant and powerful,” said Dean Ormston, CEO, APRA AMCOS.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this video contains the names, images, and voices of people now passed.

Archie Roach accepts Ted Albert Award presented by Stan Grant at 2017 APRA Music Awards.

Archie Roach joined APRA in 1988, two years before the release of his landmark debut album Charcoal Lane. He was honoured with the prestigious Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music at the 2017 APRA Music Awards.

When journalist Stan Grant introduced the Ted Albert Award, he shared what Uncle Archie told him about 'Took the Children Away'.

"When I first wrote that, it was my story. Then I saw it as an Aboriginal story. And, now it’s an Australian story,” Archie said.

At the 2015 APRA Screen Music Awards, Uncle Archie and co-writer Shane Howard won Best Original Song Composed for the Screen for 'A Secret River' from The Secret River.

"I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Uncle Archie Roach’s passing and send my condolences to his family and to those who loved him. I’ve been fortunate enough to sing alongside him over the past 13 years, moments I treasure and hold close to my heart.

"Honesty when it materialises through song reminds us that we are the same when it comes to authentic emotions and basic human needs and rights.

"At the NATSIMO we celebrate and recognise Archie as one of our country's greatest songwriters, his extensive catalogue and countless achievements prove that he is more than worthy of that title. We love you, Uncle Archie. Until we meet again in the Dreamtime," Leah Flanagan, Director, National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Music Office.

"Archie was a singer song writer without peer. His natural ability with words that paint evocative pictures, ones that represented the emotional, the physical and the historical zeitgeist, that ability and the music that he produced as a result can’t be replaced.

"He was a man who carried a heavy load through his creativity and politics. He was the jongleur, the story teller that Australia needed … still needs … telling the truth in starkly realistic ways that made us cry and listen and try to understand.

"I will miss that craggy, husky, beautiful voice," said Jenny Morris, APRA Chair.

Vale Archie Roach

Paul Kelly, A.B. Original, Dan Sultan pay tribute to Archie Roach 'Took the Children Away'

Archie Roach's Ted Albert Award Video

Archie Roach performs 'A Secret River' | 2015 Best Original Song Composed for the Screen.