The Black Arm Band

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Black Arm Band is an Aboriginal Australian and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) music theatre organisation.[1] The organisation was founded in late 2005 by Steven Richardson and has produced seven large-scale productions since its debut performance at the Melbourne Festival of the Arts in 2006 in addition to ongoing educational and development work in remote Aboriginal communities.[2] Members are drawn from around Australia and include both blackfulla and whitefulla musicians with diverse musical backgrounds. The organisation's name comes from a speech by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard who referred to a "black armband view of history".[3] Their first show, murundak (meaning "alive" in Woiwurrung), debuted at the 2006 Melbourne International Arts Festival and has since played around Australia and internationally in London,[4][5][6][7][8] and their second show Hidden Republic debuted at the 2008 Melbourne International Arts Festival, both Festivals being under the artistic direction of Kristy Edmunds.[9][10]

In 2009 the new artistic director of the renamed Melbourne Festival, Brett Sheehy, continued the relationship with The Black Arm Band, which saw the commissioning and presentation of the premiere productions of Dirtsong conceived and directed by Steven Richardson (2009), Seven Songs to Leave Behind (2010) and Notes From the Hard Road And Beyond (2011) - also both conceived and directed by Steven Richardson. The first was a celebration of preservation of Indigenous languages with Miles Franklin Award-winner Alexis Wright; the second an international collaboration by contemporary Indigenous singers and musicians including the legendary Gurrumul Yunupingu joined by Sinéad O'Connor, John Cale, Rickie Lee Jones and Meshell Ndegeocello; and the third saw Mavis Staples, Joss Stone, Emmanuel Jal and Paul Dempsey join The Black Arm Band to celebrate protest music from the 1960s through to contemporary Indigenous songs of activism.




  • murundak premiered 2006
  • Hidden Republic premiered 2008
  • dirtsong premiered 2009
  • Seven Songs to Leave Behind premiered 2010
  • Notes from the Hard Road and Beyond premiered 2011
  • "Mamiaith - Mother Tongue" premiered 2012
  • "Ngangwarra means heart" premiered 2013


  • murundak – (October 2006)
  • Hidden Republic – (October 2008)



  1. ^ "ATSIA". Australia Council. Australia Council. 
  2. ^ "ABOUT". Black Arm Band. TBAB Inc. 
  3. ^ Donovan, Patrick (23 October 2008). "Yunupingu takes Black Arm Band message to the world". The Age. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  4. ^ Q Weekend Magazine. 12 July 2008 Solid Rock
  5. ^ Evening Standard. 27 June 2008 Oz still has its wizards
  6. ^ The West Australian. 25 February 2008 Perfect time to celebrate indigenous Oz
  7. ^ X-Press Magazine. 21 February 2008 Murundak – The Black Armband
  8. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 December 2007 Musical Journey to Aboriginal heart
  9. ^ Melbourne International Arts Festival program The Black Arm Band. Hidden Republic
  10. ^ The Age. 22 October 2008 Yunupingu takes Black Arm Band message to the world
  11. ^ "ON STAGE". Black Arm Band. TBAB Inc. 
  12. ^ History. "About". Black Arm Band. TBAB Inc. 

External links[edit]