- On 13 November, Archie Roach will release The Songs Of Charcoal Lane, new recordings of the 10 songs from his award-winning album Charcoal Lane, recorded at his home during lockdown
- Today, Archie Roach shares the reimagined version of his renowned single ‘Took The Children Away’ – watch the video here
- Video features illustrations from Archie’s late partner and musical collaborator Ruby Hunter
- This year is the 30 year anniversary of Charcoal Lane
Music legend, Stolen Generations survivor and 2020 Victorian Australian Of The Year, Archie Roach AM, celebrates the 30 year anniversary of his debut album Charcoal Lane with the announcement of The Songs Of Charcoal Lane, recorded at his kitchen table in southwest Victoria, during the Covid-19 lockdown. Ahead of the November 13 release of The Songs Of Charcoal Lane, today Archie re-launches his renowned and heart-wrenching single ‘Took The Children Away’.
In July, in a year like no other, Archie brought trusted musicians Stephen Magnusson and Sam Anning, along with recording engineer Hadyn Buxton, to his home on Gunditjmara lands on his mother’s country, to re-record the timeless classic songs of Charcoal Lane.
Archie says, “Recording at home, with just the four of us, has been a great experience. There’s an intimacy, a closeness; we have gathered the songs in. I have been so much more relaxed sitting here at my kitchen table with a cup of tea, looking out at my yard, recording the songs, maybe doing 2 to 3 takes. When we listen back to the recordings you can sense that there’s a different feel, a more relaxed approach to the songs, it’s more earthy.
Over the past 30 years I have written most of my songs at the kitchen table, when my children were little and running around. Ruby and the children were the first to hear them. As I have matured so have the songs, it’s like they have grown with me. I think I understand them a lot better now than I did 30 years ago… it’s probably how they should have been sung.”
When Charcoal Lane was released in 1990, its impact was immediate. Critics were quick to realise Archie’s soulful vocals and heartfelt lyrics heralded the emergence of a major new artist. Charcoal Lane is certified gold, and won two ARIA Awards.
Charcoal Lane’s centrepiece, ‘Took The Children Away’, shone a stark light on the impact of the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, and brought it to the attention of the global community. The song won an Australian Human Rights Achievement Award (the first time the award was ever awarded to a songwriter).
The Songs Of Charcoal Lane is yet another unique testament to the ten songs on Archie’s debut, nine of which were penned by Archie himself, with the tenth (‘Down City Streets’) written by Archie’s late partner and musical collaborator, Ruby Hunter. The album will be released to coincide with NAIDOC Week celebrations in November.
Since the 1990 release of Charcoal Lane, a lot has happened in Archie’s world, which readers of his 2019 award-winning memoir Tell Me Why saw in its heart-wrenching and heart-warming moments. And in those 30 years, Archie’s voice has gone through changes as well! His voice is front and centre in these new recordings, not unlike the way that Johnny Cash approached his American recordings.
On 7 October, a picture-book edition of Took The Children Away was released through Simon & Schuster, with evocative illustrations by Ruby Hunter. In March 2021, a young adult edition of Tell Me Why will be published.
This week, Archie Roach launched The Archie Roach Stolen Generation Educational Resources. Freely available on ABC Education, and developed by First Nations Curriculum writers from Culture Is Life, in collaboration with the Archie Roach Foundation, The Archie Roach Stolen Generations Resources includes filmed conversations with Archie and Elders around the themes of cultural identity, Stolen Generations, talking our truths, and healing through story and the arts, with comprehensive educational support materials.