Joe Geia

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Joe Geia is an Australian musician of Murri Aboriginal heritage from North Queensland. He is best known as the composer of the song "Yil Lull", which has been recorded by many other artists including Paul Kelly, Archie Roach, Jimmy Barnes, and most recently by the Singers for the Red, Black and Gold, which included Christine Anu, Renée Geyer, Tiddas, Paul Kelly, and Shane Howard.


Geia is a composer, guitarist, singer and didgeridoo player and has been recognised as one of the most influential figures in the development of contemporary Indigenous music. He first came to prominence as a member of the influential Aboriginal band No Fixed Address in 1982–1983.[1] He has also collaborated semi-regularly since the 1980s with songwriter Shane Howard (best known for the Australian hit "Solid Rock" with his band Goanna). Howard produced Geia's album, Nunga, Koori and a Murri Love – released in mid December 2005.[2]

Geia's first full album, Yil Lull, was released in 1988[1] (the year of Australia's bicentennial), on the Only Gammin' label, and achieved an unprecedented level of critical and commercial success for an Aboriginal performer. He toured nationally in support of the album on the "Uncle Willie" tour of 1988[3] and reached a wide audience. The album was considered vitally important among Aboriginal people, and was well-timed to express a growing sense of pride in culture and identity, and hope for the political fight for land rights.

Geia has been cited as an important influence by almost every Aboriginal musician to achieve prominence since that time. He has worked with many other Australian musicians including a long-term close relationship with ARIA award winning Tasmanian band Wild Pumpkins at Midnight, who often appeared as his backing band in various combinations. In 1995 Geia toured Europe with members of Wild Pumpkins under the name Joe Geia and the Black Snake Orchestra. They performed in Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium. In 1996 he was a guest vocalist on the song "Pretty Valley," based on the oral history of a massacre of tribal people in New South Wales. Produced by Tony Cohen, it featured on the Wild Pumpkins' album Sad Trees, released by Way Over There, 1996. Wild Pumpkins guitarist Nick Larkins has been a regular member of Geia's live band since 1995, and contributed to his most recent album.

Geia released a second album, Tribal Journey, in 1996, through Larrikin/Festival records. He has also contributed songs to other projects and worked as a session musician for other bands. His third album Nunga, Koori and a Murri Love was released by Across The Borders, Melbourne, in December 2005. Produced by Shane Howard, the album was made with a cast of well-known Australian support musicians. These include Kerryn Tolhurst (The Dingoes), Ross Hannaford (Daddy Cool), Bob Sedergreen, Nick Larkins, Russell Smith, Ricardo Idago, Rebecca Barnard, Shelley Scown and many more.

Stylistically Geia's songs fit the category of roots music and range from simple Pacific songs to reggae, rock and funk. The songs are written in Aboriginal language and English, and touch on universal themes as well as issues of Aboriginal Australia, although not in an overtly political way. There is plenty of irony and black humour in some of the more recent songs like "Gimme a Mercedes" and "Good To See Ya."

Solo discography[edit]


  • 1988, Yil Lull
  • 1996, Tribal Journey
  • 2005, Nunga, Koori and a Murri Love


External links[edit]