On Saturday 21st September, a music event celebrating peace and harmony lit up a small remote town in the Pilbara on the International Day of Peace.
‘Songs for Peace’ is an initiative of the Indigenous community of Roebourne in partnership with Big hART, which celebrates pride, harmony, peace and music. Begun in 2018 and headlined by Archie Roach, this year's event focused on celebrating women, with leading Indigenous Australian female artists taking to the stage alongside young emerging leaders, Nannas and Elders who are the building blocks of the community. Three renowned female Indigenous Artists headed the bill – country singer Theona Councillor, singer-songwriter Naomi Pigram of the renowned Pigram family and soul songstress Emma Donovan. These artists were joined by a host of talented local and visiting artists including Tyson Mowarin, Josie Alec, Angus Smith, Koda TahiTahi, Aaron Hopper, Hamilton & Stirling Blacket, Cyril Munda and the Community Band and more, under the musical direction of Grammy award-winning artist Lucky Oceans.
“Songs for Peace brings a good sense of belonging and togetherness, bringing everyone together, singing together, laughing together and yarning together about stories and song lines”, said Tootsie Daniel, Yindjibarndi Elder. “Roebourne is a peaceful place and we as Elders want to keep it that way. We want to pass the peace onto our families, into our homes and into the community; be the ones shaping our community.”
Songs for Peace was no ordinary concert and for this town which is often mired in the media, this event builds on the strengths of the community, and is future focused. The songs and stories of Roebourne was key, which saw the headlining artists performing songs written by local community members as well as inmates from the prison. Over 400 people came together to support this special event under the stars, and were moved and transported with songs of loss and love, resilience and renewal, struggle and hope. Adjacent to the event was an art exhibition of award-winning women artists from the Pilbara from 12 years of the Cossack Art Awards, alongside digital works created by young people of Roebourne in the Digital Lab at the Centre. Leading up to the event, Roebourne was a buzz with music and songwriting workshops, digital music production workshops for young people and the fire was also lit at sunset at the John Pat Peace Place, a place of healing which commemorates John Pat, whose death, was one of the key factors which led to the national Inquiry into Deaths in Custody.
Songs for Peace is an annual event which will return to Roebourne on 19 September in 2020 - everyone is welcome.
Songs for Peace is proudly supported by COINS Foundation.