Thursday, February 18, 2010

In memory of Ruby Hunter (1955-2010)

Little children of the darkened night/
Dark shaped shadows come through the night/
Say the words to try not to hear/
The threat that's placed the cry of fear/

Wet Heart No Tears/
Wet Hear No Tears/

Ruby Hunter, Wet Heart No Tears from the CD "Thoughts Within"
Terribly sad to hear of the premature death of singer-songwriter and Ngarrindjeri woman Ruby Hunter. Ruby Hunter died of a heart attack at her home in Western Victoria. She was just 55 years of age.

Perhaps best known as the musical partner and soul mate of Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter was a singer songwriter of great power and intensity. The CD Ruby's Story, which she recorded with Archie Roach and Paul Grabowsky, used hers and Archie Roach's songs to tell her life story.

Taken away from her family when she was 8 years old, Ruby Hunter met Archie Roach when she was 16. They were both homeless and living on the streets in Adelaide. Her amazing life story can be read in this interview on the ABC program Talking Heads.

Ruby Hunter had a voice like no other Australian female singer. It was a voice that drew from the depths of the spirit of this country. Her singing drew on her own life history but also the history of Aboriginal women and Aboriginal people. For me she was a uniquely Australian voice.

When singing backing vocals with Archie Roach, Ruby was able to bring a haunting power to his songs. Every time I hear her sing on Took the Children Away I am moved to tears. Archie Roach's song Louis St John is about the murder of an young Aboriginal young man in Perth's western suburbs. Ruby Hunter's background vocal is mesmerizing. Her voice seems to carry the grief of all Aboriginal mothers who lost their sons to the racism of white Australia.

Australian jazz musician Paul Grabowsky had this to say about Ruby Hunter and he is absolutely spot on:
"I don't use the phrase 'a great Australian' that often, but I have absolutely no hesitation in applying it to Ruby Hunter.. There is no sound like the voice of Ruby Hunter. It really is the sound of the first peoples, a sound that really evokes a sense of country"
I will listen to her CD's over coming days in remembrance of an inspiring Australian. If you don't have a Ruby Hunter CD buy one.

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