Auriel Andrew

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Auriel Andrew
Auriel Andrew.jpg
Background information
Birth nameAuriel Marie
OriginArrernte people
Died2 January 2017 (aged 69)
New South Wales, Australia
GenresAboriginal country

Auriel Andrew OAM (1947 – 2 January 2017)[1][2] was an award-winning Arrernte country musician from the Northern Territory of Australia.[3]


Andrew was born in Darwin, and grew up in Mparntwe, Northern Territory. She is Arrernte, the Traditional Owners of Mparntwe and surrounding areas in Central Australia. Her skin name was Mbitjana and her totem is the hairy caterpillar (Ayepe-arenye). The youngest of seven children, she started singing at the age of four, and began her professional career by moving to Adelaide, South Australia aged 21 to pursue her music career.[3] She worked with Chad Morgan in the Adelaide and Port Lincoln areas, and appeared on live TV music broadcasts, including shows hosted by Roger Cardwell, Johnny Mack and Ernie Sigley, and then becoming a regular on Channel Nine's Heather McKean & Reg Lindsay Show. In 1973, she moved to Sydney, and toured with Jimmy Little, performing at popular clubs and pubs around New South Wales.


In the 1970s, Andrew was a regular guest on The Johnny Mac Show, The Reg Lindsay Country Hour'' and The Ernie Sigley Show.[3] Her first album Truck Driving Woman (1970) was the second by an Indigenous woman in Australia.[4]

She performed at the Sydney Opera House for the venue's grand opening, and sang "Amazing Grace" in Pitjantjitjara for Pope John Paul II during his Australian tour. Auriel's well-known recordings include the country classic "Truck Drivin' Woman" and Bob Randell's "Brown Skin Baby". She performed at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Woodford Dreaming Festival, and regularly performed at various clubs around the Newcastle area.

She appeared in the SBS documentary Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music (2000) about Aboriginal country music[3] (associated with the book by Clinton Walker), singing "Truck Driving Woman".

Other film appearances included the short films BeDevi and Hush.

Andrew appeared in the stage show Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, written and performed by English artist Christopher Green at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2007, and at the Beckett Theatre in Melbourne in 2011.[5] She also appeared on several Australian television programs including episodes of A Country Practice, Blue Heelers, Playschool and the mini-series Heartland.[6]

Her 2013 album Ghost Gums included new original songs about her life and childhood.

She has taught Aboriginal culture in classrooms for 20 years, passing on her knowledge in schools in Queensland, the Northern Territory and New South Wales,[7] and in 2016 joined the cast of the stage adaptation of Clinton Walker's Buried Country, which made its premiere in her hometown of Newcastle on 20 August.

Awards and honours[edit]

At the Deadly Awards 2008, Auriel was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander music.

In 2011, she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her work as an entertainer and contribution to her communities through charity events.


Auriel Andrew died of cancer in Hunter Valley Private Hospital, Shortland, New South Wales, on 2 January 2017. She was 69 years old.[2]



  • Truck Driving Woman (EP) (1970)
  • Just For You (Nationwide, 1971)
  • Chocolate Princess (Opal Records, 1982)
  • Mbitjana (Imparja, 1985)
  • Ghost Gums (2013)



  1. ^ Andrew, Auriel; Reuben Andrew (19 June 2008). "Music Australia – Auriel Andrew, Sarina Andrew and Reuben Andrew, folk musicians". Event occurs at 105 minutes. Archived from the original on 6 May 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  2. ^ a b "R.I.P. Auriel Andrew 1947–2017 –". Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lindy Kerin (Director) (2 September 2005). "Indigenous Music Awards". Stateline Northern Territory. Archived from the original on 8 September 2016. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  4. ^ "Remembering Auriel Andrew: A woman as powerful as her voice". NITV. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Tina C: Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 March 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Australia Day Honours list | Australian Youth Music Council". Archived from the original on 23 March 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Love of teaching and country music for Hunter OAM recipient". The Newcastle Star. 2 February 2011. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
  8. ^ "Auriel Andrew".
  9. ^ "Deadlys 2008 Winners Announced!". Vibe News. 8 October 2008. Archived from the original on 17 October 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
  10. ^ "People who make this region great honoured for service to community". The Newcastle Herald. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2011.

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