Prestophone Mastertape by Olive and Eva
Cousins Olive McGuiness and Eva Bell were a harmony duo known as Olive and Eva, active in the 1950s. Over the span of their career they had two releases on Australia’s Prestophone label, becoming the first Indigenous recording artists to release a commercially available disc.
As cousins, they spent their childhood in Cowra then Sydney amongst the Wiradjuri people of NSW. It was here they met the composer of their music, Grace O’Clerkin. Their first release in 1955 featured four songs written by O’Clerkin.
Two of them – 'Old Rugged Hills' and 'Rhythm of Corroboree' (heard here) – drew inspiration from Australia’s bushland and its First Peoples. These songs paint a romantic picture of an idyllic land of ancient river gums and mystic legends.
This Prestophone mastertape is a rare survivor from the early vinyl era in Australia and includes the master recordings for all four songs recorded by the duo – the additional tracks were ‘Maranoa Moon’ and ‘Homeland Calling’.
Image: Olive McGuiness (aged 18) and Eva Bell (aged 16). Source: The Australian Women’s Weekly, 7 December 1955, p.15 retrieved from Trove.