title iconAboriginal activist and songwriter Archie Roach dies at 66

Roach's song "Took The Children Away," from the Stolen Generations, was awarded a Human Rights Medal. Archie Roach, the legendary Indigenous Australian artist who won a Human Rights Medal for his song "Took the Children Away," died Saturday after a long illness. The 66-year-old passed away.

Bundjalung senior elder, Longman, prolific storyteller, and First Nations champion Gunditjmara died at Warrnambool Base Hospital surrounded by family. Roach's sons Amos and Eban wrote a statement in which they praised their father's accomplishments. In addition to being a healer, he was a unifying force. People came together through his music."

As Uncle Arch, Roach worked for over 30 years and released eight albums during his career, contributing more songs to the Australian canon than many other writers, says a statement from APRA AMCOS and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Office.

"He carried his people and their stories everywhere he went, and his songs revealed many truths about our shared history that have made our musical community richer." A heartbreaking tale about the forced separation of First Nations children from their families crystallized those truths in "Took The Children Away." The song was based on a personal experience.

Several events were held in honor of Roach's life and career. The Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music and the Order of Australia were both presented to him in 2015. When Stan Grant presented the Ted Albert Award, Roach told him how he had written: "Took The Children Away."

"That was my story when I wrote it. It became apparent to me that it was an Aboriginal story. Roach added, "And now it's an Australian story.".

"A Secret River" from The Secret River won the best original song composed for the screen at the 2015 APRA Screen Music Awards. As part of the 30th anniversary of the release of Charcoal Lane, his debut full-length album containing "Took The Children Away," the songsmith was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2020.

It was the first time a songwriter had been honored with an international Human Rights Achievement Award for "Took The Children Away" after it won two ARIA Awards in 1991. Australia's National Film and Sound Archive have preserved the song.

ARIA Awards have been won by Roach nine times, including the award for best male artist in 2020. Roach was honored by Australia's prime minister Anthony Albanese. A social media post recalls how "our country has lost a brilliant talent, a prolific and powerful national truth-teller." “Despite the trauma and pain he drew from, Archie's music radiated beauty and resonance that touched us all.”

The pastor continues, "We mourn his death, we honor his life, and we hold to the hope that the words, music, and spirit of his indomitable spirit will live on for us to be guided and inspired by. "This news is deeply saddening to all of us. According to ARIA and PPCA CEO Annabelle Herd, Archie Roach's powerful, unifying storytelling has had a transcendent impact on not only Australian music fans but music lovers worldwide.

He has left a legacy that will inspire many generations to come with his resounding talent and tireless dedication. The celebration of his extraordinary life is dedicated to his family, as well as the many lives he touched for the better." A national treasure, "Uncle Archie's voice has never been more poignant and powerful," says Dean Ormston, CEO of APRA AMCOS.

Source: Billboard