Ruby Hunter

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Ruby Hunter
Ruby Hunter and Archie Roach1.jpg
Ruby Hunter (left) with partner Archie Roach at the 2009 Tamworth Country Music Festival
Background information
Born(1955-10-31)31 October 1955
Ngarrindjeri lands, South Australia, Australia
Died17 February 2010(2010-02-17) (aged 54)
GenresFolk, blues, roots
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Associated actsArchie Roach, Amos Roach, Wesley Brigham

Ruby Charlotte Margaret Hunter (31 October 1955 – 17 February 2010) was an Aboriginal Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist. She was a Ngarrindjeri woman, who often performed with her partner, Archie Roach AM, whom she met at the age of 16, while both were homeless teenagers.[1] Born near the mouth of the Murray River in the Coorong region of South Australia, Hunter was forcibly taken from her family at the age of eight as part of the Stolen Generation.[2]

Hunter first performed in public in 1988 during a festival at Bondi Pavilion in Sydney, where she performed "Proud, Proud Woman," the first song she had written.[3] In 1990, she wrote the autobiographical "Down City Streets", which was performed by Roach on his debut solo album Charcoal Lane.[3] In 1994, Hunter became the first Indigenous Australian woman to record a solo "rock" album, and the first Aboriginal woman signed to a major record label, when she released her debut album Thoughts Within.[4][5]


She received two ARIA Award nominations, for Best Indigenous Release for Thoughts Within in 1995, and Best Blues & Roots Album for Feeling Good in 2000, respectively.[6]

Hunter won Deadlys in 2000 for Female Artist of the Year, 2003 for Outstanding Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music and 2004 for Excellence in Film & Theatrical Score. She made her acting debut in One Night the Moon. With Roach and Paul Grabowsky, she wrote and performed the concert "Ruby's Story", which tells her life story through song and spoken word.[7]


Hunter was the author of Butcher paper, texta, black board and chalk, a children's song-book which features Aboriginal songs about land, health and life. Many of the songs were written through song writing and music workshops held by Hunter and Roach with children across Cape York in Queensland.[citation needed]

In 2005, Hunter was invited by Deborah Conway to take part in the Broad Festival project, with three other Australian female artists, where they performed their own and each other's songs.[8] With Hunter and Conway were Sara Storer, Katie Noonan and Clare Bowditch.[9]

Personal life[edit]

As a child, Hunter lived with her brothers, Wally, Jeffrey and Robert, and sister Iris, with their grandmother and grandfather at the Aboriginal reserve at Point McLeay (later called Raukkan) on Lake Alexandrina in the Coorong region of South Australia. One day, Wally was taken off the street by government officials, and then the men took the rest of the children from their home, under the pretext that they were being taken to the circus. Thereafter Ruby lived in institutions and foster care, as one of the Stolen Generations, before drifting to Adelaide, staying for a spell at the Salvation Army People's Palace, where she met Roach. They later had two sons and fostered three children.[2][10]

Hunter died of a heart attack on 17 February 2010, aged 54.[11] Her partner Archie Roach established "Ruby's Foundation" to help continue her legacy. The foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for Aboriginal people through the promotion, celebration and support of Aboriginal arts and culture.[12][13]


  • Thoughts WithinMushroom (MUSH32309.2) (1994)
  • Feeling Good – Mushroom (MUSH332672) (21 January 2000)
  • Ruby with Archie Roach, Australian Art Orchestra & Paul Grabowsky – Australian Art Orchestra (AAO16) (2005)
Contributing artist


  1. ^ ABC TV: Talking heads: 12/05/2008 Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter
  2. ^ a b Zuel, Bernard (22 February 2010). "Nurturing force of nature sang of Australia's sorry past: Ruby Hunter, 1955-2010". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. ^ a b Lusk, Jon (12 March 2010). "Ruby Hunter: Pioneering Aboriginal singer and songwriter". The Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Ruby Hunter". Deadly Vibe. March 2003. Archived from the original on 8 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  5. ^ Roach, Archie (2019). Tell me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music. Simon & Schuster. p. 252. ISBN 9781760850166.
  6. ^ "History: Search results for "Ruby hunter"". ARIA. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Ruby's Story". Sydney Morning Herald.
  8. ^ Elliott, Tim (19 August 2008). "Lady's Night at the Beckoning Microphone". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  9. ^ "Broad 2005". Broad Festival. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
  10. ^ Roach, Archie (2019). Tell me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music. Simon & Schuster. pp. 125–126, 234–235. ISBN 9781760850166.
  11. ^ "Singer Ruby Hunter dies", The Age, 18 February 2010
  12. ^[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Facebook page, Ruby Hunter Foundation".

External links[edit]