The much celebrated musician, songwriter and artist Archie Roach has died at the age of 66. His song, Took the Children Away, rang out as an anthem to the Stolen Generations and became the forerunner to many poignant and powerful songs and stories created by him since then. His indomitable, generous and loving spirt will forever inspire and touch the hearts and minds of all who genuinely strive to achieve the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children. As once stated by the man himself, “Songs outlive people.”
We are so proud of everything our dad achieved in his remarkable life. He was a healer and unifying force.
Amos and Eban Roach
He was a truth teller, an inspiration to so many and he will continue to be a national icon.
Marcus Stewart, Nira illim bulluk man and co-chair of the First People’s Assembly of Victoria
He was a quiet achiever. He didn’t go out looking for accolades. He wanted to tell his story. And he wanted to tell our story as Aboriginal people, and the only way he could do that was through his music. And he made the world stand up and listen and hear.
Jill Gallagher, AO, a Gunditjmara woman and Chief Executive
of Victoria’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations
As First Nations People, we found comfort in his songs, we found reflection in his songs, our stories but I think also for the Australian people … he has had such an impact in the music scene and industry.
Karen Mundine, Bundjalung woman and chief executive of Reconciliation Australia
Through his voice and his ability to communicate across all of society, he brought the realities of the oppression of the past into the homes of all people. And through this voice and amazing talent, he had the ability to bring people together rather than divide.
Professor Carolyn Briggs, Boon Wurrung senior elder
Our country has lost a brilliant talent, a powerful and prolific national truth teller. His powerful music was drawn from a well of trauma and pain, but it flowed with a beauty and a resonance that moved us all.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
His voice, his music and his story came out of pain but was informed by hope. A pioneering musician and survivor of the Stolen Generations, your songs will live forever. Thank you, Archie for everything you gave us.
Linda Burney, Minister for Indigenous Australians and member of the Wiradjuri nation
Uncle Archie, thank you for validating the trauma felt in our communities since colonisation. Your music brought us healing and peace. May our ancestors protect and guide you.
Senator Lidia Thorpe, DjabWurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman
So saddened to hear the passing of such a champion for First Nations people and all humanity. I will remember (Uncle) Archie Roach as such a courageous story teller and remarkable musician! You’ll never be forgotten. Rest in Peace.
Cathy Freeman, a Kuku Yalanji and Birri Gubba woman
Your integrity, your messages and perspectives in your songs will always carry me. Seeing you sing was more than a performance. Thank you for the truth and singing what you lived, thank you for being so humble and so generous. Uncle, you’ll always be so special to me.
Emma Donovan, singer/songwriter who is of
Yamatji and Gumbaynggirr ancestry
Journey well to the dreaming Uncle Archie Roach. Thank you for filling my childhood home with so much strength, soul and heart. You will never be forgotten, thank you for paving the way for us. Thank you for giving us a voice.
Barkaa, Malyangapa and Barkindji rapper
We can’t thank Uncle Arch enough for what he gave us. His strength he showed us right until the end. His generosity, talent and artistry that we all benefit from.
Briggs, Yorta Yorta rapper
It’s impossible to measure the importance of this man’s contribution to our nation’s story. Archie’s work was essential to our understanding of Indigenous strength and the capacity to endure oppression.
Mark Seymour, Hunters and Collectors
He was an unrelenting and generous champion for his people… He carried the collective loss of his people, which is immense, on his broad shoulders. Sometimes you felt that the weight of that burden threatened to crush him. It would crush most people. But when Archie sang, he soared like an eagle and gave voice to all of that pain, suffering, loss, joy and inevitably, redemption. His great gift was that he did it in a way that liberated us all. Let our tears fall tonight for what the whole country has lost. There is a tear in the tapestry of our national soul.
Shane Howard, Goanna
Today our world has changed forever and our work becomes so much more difficult because Uncle Archie was holding up so much of our nation’s spirit in the work that he did, as a singer, as a truth-teller. It’s hard to articulate really succinctly what that role was in Australian society, but he softened hearts. He made it possible for us to walk on this path that we find ourselves on today. He had more songs to sing. He had more work to do, and yet he is taken from us now. It’s often said that we stand on the shoulders of giants … the whole of Australia can say that it stood on the shoulder of a giant in Uncle Archie Roach.
Deborah Cheetham, opera singer and director of the Dhungala Children’s Choir who performed on the Let Love Rule album in 2016
You taught me life’s deepest lessons. You are an inspiration, but so much more. You embodied grace. I am so lucky to have talked and made music with you, a truly Great Australian.
Paul Grobowsky, producer of Tell Me Why album
Archie Roach. Big tree down. Weeping in the forest.
Paul Kelly, singer-songwriter