Tributes are flowing for beloved Aboriginal musician Archie Roach.
He will be remembered as someone whose powerful songs were a source of healing and somebody who was dedicated to the truth.
The 66-year-old Gunditjmara-Bundjalung elder died surrounded by family and loved ones at Warrnambool Base Hospital in Victoria after fighting a long illness, according to his sons Amos and Eban Roach.
“We are so proud of everything our dad achieved in his remarkable life,” the pair said.
“He was a healer and unifying force. His music brought people together.”
Roach rose to prominence with the release of his debut single “Took the Children Away” in 1990 and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2020.
The song reflected his experience as a member of the Stolen Generation and earned him ARIA nominations for breakthrough artist and an award for best new talent at the 1991 awards, and was further added to the National Film and Sound Archive in 2013.
His family have requested privacy, with a lowkey ceremony planned but have given permission for his name, image and music to continue to be used so his legacy can inspire others.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney described him as a giant of the industry.
“For many Australians, Archie was their first exposure to the horrors of the Stolen Generations,” she said in a statement.
“His voice, his music and his story came out of trauma and pain.
“His powerful songs also brought people together. They provided strength and still serve as a source of healing – putting into words what was unspeakable.”
Reconciliation Australia said Roach shone a light on history, the present and future, while Olympic gold medal winner Cathy Freeman passed on her condolences.
“(He was) such a champion for First Nations people and all humanity,” she wrote on Twitter.
So saddened to hear the passing of such a champion for First Nations people and all humanity. I will remember (Uncle) Archie Roach as such a courageous story teller and remarkable musician! You’ll never be forgotten. Rest in Peace. Sincerest condolences to all the family. pic.twitter.com/7OVBfvRldw
— Cathy Freeman (@CathyFreeman) July 30, 2022
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia had lost a “brilliant talent, a powerful and prolific national truth teller”.
“Archie’s music drew from a well of trauma and pain, but it flowed with a beauty and a resonance that moved us all,” Mr Albanese said in a social media post.
“We grieve for his death, we honour his life and we hold to the hope that his words, his music and his indomitable spirit will live on to guide us and inspire us.”
Image: Getty Images
This article first appeared on OverSixty.