Archie Roach looks at the camera with his arms folded.
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Archie Roach

Archie Roach collection

His life story told through his music

The powerful songs of Archie Roach (1956–2022) tell his story of heartbreaking loss, love and healing through music.

He is a Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder and was  born in Mooroopna, Victoria.

A musician, author and human rights campaigner, Archie was also a member of the Stolen Generations. He was forcibly separated from his family when he was two years old, placed into foster care and told he was an orphan.

To coincide with the release of Archie's autobiography and companion album Tell Me Why (2019), the NFSA honoured Archie's four-decade career with two curated collections filled with rare footage, live recordings, photographs, documents, home movies and excerpts from an online-exclusive interview.

This collection explores Archie's life and musical history – from falling in love with gospel and country music, surviving homelessness and alcoholism, to recording his ARIA award-winning debut album Charcoal Lane (1990), and his subsequent career right up to one of his latest songs, 'Place of Fire' (2019).

Learn more about his collaboration with partner Ruby Hunter in the Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter collection, which includes behind-the-scenes home movie footage, photographs and rare interviews.

WARNING: this collection contains names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Archie Roach: ‘Took the Children Away’
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NFSA ID
1011788
Year:
Year

Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter talk about their experiences as members of the Stolen Generations. A Gunditjmara and Bundjalung man, Archie was forcibly separated from his family, who were living at the Framlingham Mission in Victoria, when he was two years old. Ruby was stolen from her family in South Australia when she was eight years old.

The clip also features their performance of 'Took the Children Away' from Murundak - Songs of Freedom, a documentary featuring some of Australia's best known Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians, released in 2011. The word 'Murundak' means 'alive' in Woiwurrung language spoken by the Kulin people around the Yarra in Victoria.

Anyone who enjoys the art of songwriting would appreciate this segment giving the background to one of the most important songs ever recorded in Australia. The cross-cutting between the live performance of 'Took the Children Away' and the backstory provided by Archie and Ruby is done seamlessly. It enriches both the song and interview.

Uncle Banjo Clarke asked Archie to write the song and provided him with his recollections of when the children were taken, which Archie incorporated in the lyrics.

Archie says in his autobiography Tell Me Why (2019) '...it's my healing song. Through songs, I have been able to deal with the pain and trauma in a more positive way. Every time I sing it, I let a little bit of the hurt and the trauma go.'

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Discovering Music
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NFSA ID
1496893
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Year

In an excerpt from an episode of the ABC TV series Blackout (1991), Archie and his foster sister Mary Cox talk about Archie discovering he had a love of music.

This beautiful segment is created with great sensitivity. It's impossible not to be moved by the recollections of his foster sister and Archie's memories of the first morning with the Cox family.

The use of photos from the time is important as it identifies the foster parents, and the inclusion of the church gives context to the story.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach on Family
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Archie Roach talks about the importance of family as a theme in his work.

Archie has known many families in his life: the one he was forcibly separated from when he was 2 years old; the Cox family who raised him; the surviving members of his family he reunited with as a young man after a letter from his sister Myrtle; the family of 'parkies' he met living on the streets of Fitzroy; and the family he created with his partner Ruby Hunter.

He also thinks a lot about the wider communities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, First Nations people around the world and the universal experience of being human.

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: The people left behind
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1496885
Year:
Year

This is a short excerpt from Singing His Story: Archie Roach in Concert, filmed at the Playhouse Theatre at the University of Western Sydney on 14 December 2007. 

The camera never wavers as Archie recounts the story of his older sister Myrtle finding him again when he was 15 years old, only to inform him that their mother had passed away a week earlier.

It's a stunning revelation captured in the most matter-of-fact way. It would have been interesting to see how the audience reacted to him telling this story but perhaps choosing not to show them makes it even more poignant.

Archie is a member of the Stolen Generations. He was taken from the Framlingham Mission on Gunditjmara country in south-western Victoria when he was two years old and sent to live with a number of foster families.

It wasn't until this contact from Myrtle that he was reunited with his brothers and sisters again. Both of his parents and his little sister Gladdie had sadly passed away in the interim.

Archie speaks about the importance of the experiences of both the children who were taken and those who were left behind. His song 'Took the Children Away' was inspired by the stories of an Elder, Uncle Banjo Clarke, who remembered the children being taken and how quiet it was once they were gone.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach wins an ARIA Award for Charcoal Lane
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1496893
Year:
Year

Archie Roach accepts his ARIA Award for Best New Talent. This footage is an excerpt from an episode of the ABC TV series Blackout (1991) that looked at Archie's life and career.

You can almost hear a pin drop during Archie's acceptance speech. The production team wisely keep the camera focused on him without any distracting cutaways to the audience, which would have lessened the impact of his words.

In this highly significant time in Archie's career, he also won an ARIA for Best Indigenous Release for his album Charcoal Lane (1990) at the same ceremony.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Place of Fire
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This song 'Place of Fire' comes from the companion album for Archie Roach's autobiography, Tell Me Why, released in 2019.

The song's laid-back feel and Archie's soulful vocal delivery echoes where he is at in both his life and career. The recording itself has a sense of clarity, warmth and intimacy – almost as if you are sitting around the fire with Archie.

The album is produced by Paul Grabowsky, who worked with Archie and Ruby on Ruby (2005). Grabowsky's jazz influence combines beautifully with undertones of the religious music Archie grew up listening to. 

Archie remarks in Tell Me Why that as he ages he is becoming more interested in the universal experience of being human, rather than the details of his own personal story. This sentiment is echoed in the song's lyrics which reference a collective Dreaming and ancient memory.

In the book he writes: 'The "place of fire" is a place of love and connection. We'll all be there – I'll be there to welcome you back, wrap my arms around you and say "I've missed you. Welcome home."'

The cover image photograph is by Adrian Cook.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach performs 'Heal the People' on Rockwiz
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NFSA ID
1497237
Courtesy:
Renegade Films (Australia) Pty Ltd
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Archie Roach appears in series 11 of the SBS music trivia show Rockwiz, performing 'Heal the People' with Craig Pilkington and the Bloodstream Choir (featuring actor and Indigenous Elder Uncle Jack Charles, Emma Donovan, Lou Bennett from Tiddas, David Leha, Veronica Wellings, Deline Briscoe and Nancy Bates).

This was the first time a choir had performed on the show and you can feel the power of the moment in both the singing and the gospel-inspired choreography. 

Archie is backed by the highly talented Rockwiz band and the recording is of studio quality. The camerawork and vision mixing are also spot on.

The song comes from Archie's sixth studio album Into the Bloodstream (2012).

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach’s first big concert with Paul Kelly
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NFSA ID
1497178
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In an excerpt from series 4 of ABC TV's Talking Heads in 2008, Peter Thompson interviews Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter. Archie talks about the first time he was asked to perform with Paul Kelly.

'Took the Children Away' is one of the most important songs recorded in Australia and hearing Archie recount its genesis and first performance captures a significant moment in our musical history. The inclusion of footage with Uncle Banjo Clarke and scenes from the music video give the story useful context.

Archie's musical partnership with Paul Kelly and Steve Connolly (who was a member of Kelly's band) was a fruitful one. The two men produced Archie's debut album Charcoal Lane in 1990.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Kutcha's Carpool Koorioke
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1591587
Courtesy:
Tamarind Tree Pictures,
Brown Cab Productions
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Year

Uncle Kutcha Edwards interviews Uncles Archie Roach and Jack Charles while they drive around Wurundjeri Country in Fitzroy, Melbourne in a format inspired by James Corden's Carpool Karaoke.

These improvised conversations with celebrities in cars have become very popular and this is a good example of the genre. The concept may be simple but the production is slightly more complex, with several camera angles, post-production work and good sound quality.

The production manages to keep a light, friendly feel without trivialising the stories Archie shares, including about being stolen from his family as a child.

Catch more episodes of the series on the Kutcha's Carpool Koorioke YouTube channel.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach On Overcoming Adversity
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Always humble, Archie Roach talks about how he'd like people to view the online exhibition Archie Roach: His Story in Song.

He references a candid and heartwarming home movie of him and Ruby playing music in the lounge room while their son Eban is watching television.

Archie resists being seen purely as an inspiration and insists he's no greater or lesser than anyone else.

He says 'I'm just me, I'm just a normal person. No need to be standing on a pedestal, that's for sure'.

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: ‘This history should be told’
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NFSA ID
1496893
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Year

An excerpt from an episode of the ABC TV series Blackout (1991) entitled Best Kept Secret: A Profile of Archie Roach, Singer/songwriter.

Here Archie talks about the pain experienced by members of the Stolen Generations, which is the subject of his iconic song 'Took the Children Away' from his first album Charcoal Lane (1990).

The interviewer wisely chooses not to interrupt Archie as the camera stays fixed on him in close-up. The effect makes his words all the more powerful.

Archie was forcibly separated from his family, who were living at the Framlingham Mission in Victoria, when he was two years old.

National media coverage such as this was vital in beginning important conversations about the treatment of the Stolen Generations. In 1995 a National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families was established. The report Bringing Them Home was handed down in 1997.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Why He Writes Music
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1496885
Year:
Year

This is a short excerpt from Singing His Story: Archie Roach in Concert, filmed at the Playhouse Theatre at the University of Western Sydney on 14 December 2007. 

Archie explains that he started writing songs as therapy for himself. Looking back he sees how each album has had its own character – with Charcoal Lane (1990) being 'a little dark' and the following albums, such as Jamu Dreaming (1993), Looking For Butterboy (1997) and Sensual Being (2002), progressively lightening up.

The minimalist production values are effective in focusing our attention on Archie's story and the clip has the feeling of documenting an intimate concert. It is a treat to hear an insight into Archie's creative process even if we don't get any cutaways to the audience to see their reactions as he is talking.

In his autobiography Tell Me Why (2019) Archie says, 'I don't try to sing to impress or educate. I sing to honour. This is something I think I learnt sobering up. Respect and truth are the cornerstones of my life now and when I play, I play to respect the stories.'

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach and Tim Rogers perform ‘Dancing Shoes’
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1497398
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Archie Roach performs 'Dancing Shoes' from his album Dancing With My Spirit (2018) with You Am I singer Tim Rogers during the 2012 AFL Grand Final edition of the Marngrook Footy Show.

The Marngrook Footy Show bills itself as 'a unique footy show bringing you a mix of football news, interviews and in-depth analysis from the AFL and beyond, with a few laughs along the way'.

This clip effectively captures the rough and ready, unscripted feel of the show with its delightful, party-like atmosphere and cutaways to the audience.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Took the Children Away by Archie Roach
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NFSA ID
376653
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Although not the first song about the enforced separation of Indigenous children from their families, Archie Roach’s song, based on his own life and experience, was released at a time when there was increasing public focus on the Stolen Generations.

The significance of the song also resonated outside the Indigenous community with Roach winning ARIA Awards for Best Indigenous Release and Best New Talent in 1991. Took the Children Away received an international Human Rights Achievement Award, the first time that the award had been bestowed on a songwriter.

Archie Roach (1956–2022) was a Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder. To learn more about his life and work, explore the curated collections Archie Roach and Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Music as a healer
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Archie Roach talks about music as being part of his healing. Archie is a member of the Stolen Generations and was forcibly separated from his family when he was just two years old.

In his autobiography Tell Me Why (2019), Archie says 'I've wrestled most of my life with addictions, but music has always been my saving grace. It's where I go to heal.'

Patrick Dodson echoes Archie's words in an interview from Liyarn Ngarn (2007), where he talks about Archie's ability to articulate pain as only an artist can.

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: ‘F Troop’
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NFSA ID
1492521
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This is an excerpt from an ABC Express segment featuring Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter. In this clip, Archie talks about writing a song for his brother Lawrence, who had passed away two years previously.

The camera remains in close-up throughout the interview and captures Archie's warmth and honesty. The inclusion of him performing the song effectively illustrates the story.

Lawrence and Archie were members of what Archie refers to as a 'drinking school' in Fitzroy, Melbourne. They called themselves the F Troop after the American TV series from the 1960s.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: 'The Songs Grow With You'
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It's lovely to hear Archie Roach refer to his songs as if they are children, calling them 'little fellas' that he's coming to understand better over time.

It's not surprising that Archie never tires of singing them for audiences.

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach Live at Northcote Social Club
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NFSA ID
1496914
Courtesy:
Archie Roach
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This excerpt of amateur footage shows Archie Roach sharing a story at a live show at Northcote Social Club in Melbourne on 28 November 2007.

Despite being amateur footage, the vision and sound is fairly good and captures Archie talking in a relaxed fashion to the audience.

From the appreciative laughter and hushed tones of the crowd, it's obvious that people come to hear Archie speak just as much as to hear him sing.

This clip offers a great example of his gentle sense of humour and his big heart. The story about seeing photos of his grandmother and great-grandmother is very touching and a very personal moment to share.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach on people loving his music
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NFSA ID
1497256
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This is an excerpt from an interview on The Chocolate Martini where Archie talks people connecting with his music.

Archie's humility stands out in this clip. It's obvious why he's so beloved in Australia and around the world.

The interviewer wisely chooses not to interrupt Archie as the camera stays fixed on a big close-up of him. The effect makes his words all the more powerful.

While there are a few jump cuts made in post-production, it doesn't diminish the recording.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: ‘The power of music’
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1497514
Courtesy:
Austar Entertainment Pty Ltd, FOXTEL Productions, SBS
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Year

Archie Roach talks about 'Took the Children Away' during a live concert performance. He explains why he wrote the song and how music has the power to heal.

This clip is from an SBS production titled Iconic Songs, which was filmed at Womadelaide in 2011. The production also featured Shane Howard and Neil Murray. 

An introduction like this one from Archie is a great illustration of how his talent for storytelling is a seamless combination of spoken word and song. His storytelling is enough to hold people in a spell as can be seen on the faces of the largely white audience visible in this segment.

Multiple cameras and vision mixing add visual interest and it's always useful to see the audience's reaction. Archie has told this story many times, but as this recording ably demonstrates, it always seems fresh.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach sings 'We Could Be Gone' with Jimmy Barnes
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NFSA ID
1580629
Courtesy:
Seven Network
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Year

In 1993, Archie Roach and Jimmy Barnes recorded 'We Could Be Gone' for Barnes' seventh studio album Flesh and Wood. They also performed the song together in an acoustic show at Channel Seven's Sydney studios to support the album's release. 

Shot with the audience in the round to emphasise a more lo-fi performance, this recording captures the creative partnership of two of Australia's most celebrated musicians. Both singers give impassioned performances and it's a spine-tingling moment when their voices combine and soar.

The featured didgeridoo player featured is Alan Dargin (1967–2008).

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Singing About Social Justice
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Archie Roach's passion for social justice comes across in songs like 'Louis St John' - about the racially motivated murder of a young man and 'Beautiful Child' about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody.

He also references Ruby Hunter's song 'Down City Streets' which was included on his album Charcoal Lane (1990). The song illuminates issues of alcoholism and homelessness.

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Awaye!: Archie Roach – Louis is me and I'm Louis
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NFSA ID
1504310
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Archie Roach, in conversation with Daniel Browning for the Indigenous ABC Radio National program AWAYE!, talks about Louis St John Johnson.

Louis was a young Aboriginal man who was brutally murdered at age 19 by some white youths, who admitted that their only motivation for the murder was 'because he was black'.

He is the subject of Archie's song 'Louis St John' from the 1997 album Looking for Butter Boy and the inspiration for the journey documentary Liyarn Dgarn (2007) featuring Archie, Pat Dodson and Pete Postlethwaite.

What shines through in this interview is not Archie's anger about the tragic event but his genuine disbelief that people can behave in this way. Daniel Browning rightfully gives him the space in which to form his thoughts. As a consequence his words have a greater immediacy and we feel he is talking directly to us.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Louis St John
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
745061
Year:
Year

This excerpt from the documentary Liyarn Ngarn introduces Louis St John Johnson – a young Aboriginal man who was brutally murdered at age 19 by two white youths.

Later the murderers admitted that their only motivation was 'because he was black'. Louis is the subject of Archie's song 'Louis St John' from the 1997 album Looking for Butter Boy.

The documentary features English actor Pete Postlethwaite, Pat Dodson and Archie Roach, who also wrote the soundtrack. The man talking about Louis in this clip is Louis's foster father Bill Johnson, who approached Archie and Pete about making the documentary.

The title means 'a coming together of the spirit' in the Yawuru language of the West Kimberley region in Australia's far north-west. The documentary recounts personal stories of injustices suffered by the Aboriginal people since British settlement.

This segment features a compelling use of images and voice-over to tell an emotional story. In less than a minute, the viewer is hooked and wants to hear more.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Coca-Cola ad for the Beijing Olympics Featuring Archie Roach
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NFSA ID
1493152
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Year

In 2008, Archie Roach performed a song for an animated advertisement for Coca-Cola, a sponsor of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. 

This is a strange soft drink ad that has animated birds collecting plastic straws to create a nest that resembles the Beijing National Stadium – officially the National Stadium, but also known as the 'Bird's Nest'.

The song performed by Archie is endearing and the animated birds are cute. The ad makes sense if it is viewed as a memorable attempt to link sponsor Coca-Cola with the Beijing Olympics in the minds of viewers.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Relationship with his fans
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Archie Roach honours the relationship he has with his fans.

Early in his career he used songwriting as a tool in his healing. Today he is interested in helping people think about important concepts like peace, love and inclusion.

These themes are apparent in the song 'Place of Fire' from his companion album for his autobiography, Tell Me Why (2019).

An Archie Roach concert is a full night of storytelling, singing and yarning. For an example of this, check out Archie Roach Live at the Northcote Social Club (2007).

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Liyarn Ngarn: Pat Dodson on Archie Roach
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
745061
Year:
Year

This is an excerpt from the documentary Liyarn Ngarn, featuring renowned English actor Pete Postlethwaite, Patrick Dodson and Archie Roach, who also wrote the soundtrack.

Patrick is a Yawuru man. At the time of writing he is a senator for Western Australia, and he has been chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and a Roman Catholic priest.

The documentary's title means 'a coming together of the spirit' in the Yawuru language of the West Kimberley region in Australia's far north-west. The documentary recounts personal stories of injustices suffered by Aboriginal people since British settlement.

In this clip, both Pat and Archie explain their perspective on the connections between an individual and their family, country and their spirit.

The whole set-up feels very authentic and low-key, considering the important concepts they are discussing. That helps us stay receptive to what the men are saying. The camera is unobtrusive, making the viewer feel like just another person seated at the table listening in.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Hanging out with my brothers
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
721299
Courtesy:
Vibe Australia Pty Ltd
Year:
Year

Rhoda Roberts interviews Archie Roach about the story behind his song 'F Troop' in this excerpt from Episode 151 of the radio show Deadly Sounds.

The essence of Archie Roach is his storytelling, and it's always delightful to hear where his songs have come from both from a songwriting perspective and from the story of his own life.

It takes a talented songwriter to see the musical potential of the memory of a TV show from his childhood like F Troop (1965–67). This recording captures Archie's telling of the story with warm sentiment and good humour.

Archie was part of the Stolen Generations and was taken from his family when he was two years old, making the themes of family and brotherhood talked about in this clip all the more poignant.

He was reunited with his siblings Lawrence (the brother whose passing inspired this song), Alma, Myrtle, Johnny (known as Horse) and Diana as an adult. Sadly his youngest sister Gladdie had died in a car accident.

The song reflects on a time in Archie's life when he was homeless and drank around pubs, parks and laneways in Melbourne's Fitzroy. He refers to the F Troop as a Fitzroy 'drinking school' in his autobiography Tell Me Why (2019).

Together, he and his fellow 'parkies' were sharing culture, creating identity and reuniting with family members separated by the Australian government's policy of the forced removal of children from their families that created the Stolen Generations.

Archie talks about meeting his sister Alma in this clip from Kutcha's Carpool Koorioke (2019) and being contacted by his sister Myrtle in this emotional clip from Singing His Story: Archie Roach in Concert (2007).

Deadly Sounds was a popular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander radio program made from 1993 to 2014 and broadcast on more than 200 Australian radio stations.

The cover image is a portrait of Archie taken by Sally Tsoutas at the University of Western Sydney in December 2007.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Japanese news story about Archie Roach
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1492488
Year:
Year

This is a Japan TV NHK9 news story featuring Archie Roach in concert in Brisbane, circa 1995, on stage with Ruby and his band and a group of Indigenous dancers.

In summary, the news reader talks about the Stolen Generations, the popularity of Archie's songs and the message he brings, and his life story. Historic footage of Aboriginal children with white families features in the segment. We then hear a very brief interview with Archie.

The impetus for this news segment is unclear. NHK is a state-owned Japanese broadcaster aimed at the international market, and this might be classified as a human interest story about a popular performer from another country. 

In this case viewers receive a vignette of Archie's life and musical career. As a short profile it seems to be quite well edited and provides a good social context for his music.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
A black and white portrait of Archie Roach.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2019/358786.jpg
Archie Roach portrait
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NFSA ID
358786
Year:
Year

This stark black-and-white portrait of Archie Roach, taken by music photographer Tony Mott, is absolutely arresting.

It resembles a piece of photojournalism, capturing a fleeting moment on an unidentified street. The technique of blurring the background used here renders the immediate physical context of the photo unimportant compared with the emotion in Archie's face.

The image was taken as a publicity shot for Hightone Records in California before Archie embarked on a tour of the United States in the early 1990s.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Mr T in ‘Took the Children Away’ music video
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Archie Roach talks about the toddler in the video clip for 'Took the Children Away' (1990).

The boy is one of their foster children – Terrence, or Mr T – who, 30 years later, is now a man.

Family is a very important theme in Archie's life and work, and he also wrote a song for Terrence called 'Mr T', which appeared on Archie's Jamu Dreaming album (1994).

You can see Mr T in an excerpt of the video clip in this interview clip with Archie and Ruby Hunter.

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Musician Dave Adern with Archie Roach on stage singing.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2019/1534405_0.jpg
Dave Adern and Archie Roach
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NFSA ID
1534405
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Archie Roach often performs with his nephew Dave Adern.

This is a wonderfully composed image that captures both performers hitting the same note – a note that you can almost hear.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Silent Night by Archie Roach
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1507276
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'Silent Night' was first performed 200 years ago this Christmas Eve in Salzburg, Austria. Schoolteacher and composer Franz Xaver Gruber wrote the popular carol with lyrics by Catholic priest Joseph Mohr. UNESCO declared the song an intangible cultural heritage in 2011.

Deviating slightly from the original melody, Archie Roach’s arrangement of 'Silent Night' fits his voice like a glove. With a rhythm section of acoustic and slide guitars the drum track falls just behind the beat and delivers a beautiful laid-back interpretation of this well-known carol. Archie’s voice is proudly mixed in front of the backing track and it is hard not to notice the reverence in his performance.

'Silent Night' appears on the Salvation Army Charity album, The Spirit of Christmas 2008. Archie Roach has a strong connection to the Salvation Army, having met his future wife and musical soulmate, Ruby Hunter at one of their drop-in centres in Adelaide in 1971. Archie acknowledges Ruby as giving him the courage to tell his story through song and perform live.

A voice that has been forged out of both sadness and strength, Archie is a big believer in the healing power of music. In 2017 he told The Guardian, 'Having your own voice is very powerful and healing. When I was young music helped me stop drinking. I turned a corner and music was great therapy for me – it still is.' 

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Writing My Story
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Archie Roach talks about the process of writing his autobiography, Tell Me Why (2019).

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Handwritten lyrics to the Archie Roach song 'We Won't Cry'
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'We Won't Cry' lyrics
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NFSA ID
1537079
Courtesy:
Archie Roach and Jill Shelton
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These handwritten lyrics for 'We Won't Cry' by Archie Roach from his album Into the Bloodstream (2012) were donated to the NFSA by Archie and his manager Jill Shelton.

Seeing these lyrics, written on a piece of paper torn from an exercise book, offers viewers a candid glimpse into Archie's songwriting process.

It's also a great example of the broad range of items that the NFSA collects – not just film and sound recordings.

With only a few corrections in the text, the neatly written lyrics give the impression that this song came to him in one sitting.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Signed poster featuring Archie Roach and Shane Howard.
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/10-2019/1528992_smaller.jpg
Archie Roach and Shane Howard poster
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1528992
Courtesy:
Archie Roach and Jill Shelton
Year:
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This poster featuring Archie Roach and Shane Howard has been signed by both men.

Archie Roach and Shane Howard have been performing together for decades and often tour together, which explains the latter's status as 'special guest' on this poster.

The bold poster design features the colours of the Australian Aboriginal flag (black, red and yellow) which also would have made it stand out when placed on a wall or noticeboard.

The photographer is Stephen Skok.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Preserving Musical History
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Archie Roach talks about the importance of preserving Australia's audiovisual and sound heritage at the NFSA.

In 2019 Jan Müller, CEO of the NFSA, said: ‘We are honoured to have received a deposit of audiovisual material, as well as original documents and artefacts, from Archie Roach and his manager Jill Shelton. These are now preserved in our collection, and we have selected highlights of this invaluable material to celebrate Archie in our new online exhibition.'

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Archie's musical influences
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NFSA ID
1506458
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Robbie Thorpe interviews Archie Roach at the 3CR radio studio in Melbourne. The station was one of the first to play Archie's music in the late 1980s.

Archie talks about his musical influences from the Scottish music his foster father Alex Cox loved to Mahalia Jackson, the Ink Spots, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke and country music.

This clip documents Archie's radio interview in the manner of a fly-on-the-wall recording than a fully-produced piece of footage. The camera operator does well to squeeze into the studio and capture the conversation.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
A black and white photograph of Archie Roach and Paul Kelly. Archie holds an ARIA award in his hand. They are both smiling.
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Archie Roach and Paul Kelly
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Tony Mott's black-and-white backstage photograph of Archie Roach and Paul Kelly, who co-produced Archie's debut album, at the ARIA Awards in 1991 has an immediate and historic feel.

It's a delightful portrait of two great singer-songwriters and collaborators, looking happy to be in each other's company.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: Where Songs Come From
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Archie Roach talks about how his songwriting has changed over his career. He says 'Songs appear, they come from the ether'.

In another lovely interview clip, Archie refers to his songs as 'little fellas', children that grow and change with him.

This clip is taken from an exclusive interview with the NFSA in 2019.

Notes by Beth Taylor

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Archie Roach: A circle of life
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NFSA ID
1493177
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This clip is an excerpt from the documentary film about the Stolen GenerationsLand of the Little Kings (2000).

Archie Roach was two years old when he was forcibly separated from his family.

The metaphor of a circle, a broken circle and rejoining a circle, is obviously very important to him and its personal meaning and value is made explicit in this clip.

Although staged for the camera, his explanation is nonetheless presented authentically through the intimacy and simplicity of drawing a circle on the ground with his finger.

The camera direction is particularly effective as it slowly pans from ground level and from above, emphasising the circle he describes.

Notes by Beth Taylor and Adam Blackshaw 

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons