Songs for Freedom Shares Hopes for a Better Future

AAR-Big-Hart-Songs-for-FreedomMarking the 40th Anniversary of the Passing of John Pat in custody, Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi Elders lead Songs for Freedom, raising their voices to heal a nation. Big hART and the community of Ieramugadu (Roebourne) are honoured to invite the community to a very special concert event, Songs for Freedom.

Songs for Freedom is an uplifting concert of original songs created by an intercultural group of artists, many in the Pilbara town of Ieramugadu (Roebourne WA). Big hART warmly welcomes all to this family friendly event of cultural sharing through music, song and screen.

This event will take place on Saturday 2 September (Sydney), Saturday 9 September (Canberra), Friday 15 September (Melbourne), before returning to Roebourne on Saturday 23 September.

With musical direction from Grammy award-winning artist, Lucky Oceans, and powerful narration by Ngarluma man, Patrick Churnside, Songs for Freedom offers heartfelt messages of freedom and hope from the people of the Pilbara, in their own words, and is set to fill the night with voices of peace, freedom and country.

Songs for Freedom has its foundations in workshops involving the family of John Pat, whose death in custody in 1983, triggered the Royal Commission into deaths in custody. 28 September 2023 is the 40th Anniversary of John Pat’s passing.

Songs for Freedom is the public manifestation of a project that has been running in Roebourne since 2010. Thirteen years ago, the Elders invited Big hART to come into their community to help create good stories and good images about Roebourne with their young people and for people outside of their own community.

It was their desire to combat the impacts of the many negative stories being reported about the small Pilbara area by finding positive ways to connect with their own young people, sharing cultural practices, and giving them access to growth opportunities through different mediums.

Since that time Big hART, supported by the Elders, has delivered workshops in the community, the school, and the prison, creating digital content, music, theatre, and performance to transform the negative stories told about Roebourne, to rich stories of renewal, self-determination, and the power of culture in Ieramugadu.

Many of the songs included in Songs for Freedom been created through engagement with these workshops.

“Songs for freedom is a body of work and a campaign… Essentially, we are singing for freedom for our country… we are singing for freedom for our children,” said Artist and Cultural Advisor, Patrick Churnside.

“We encourage the Aboriginal people to stand up for who they are. You have talent; Go for it. While we have our Elders still to have stories and to perform,” said Artist and Cultural Advisor, Allery Sandy.

Songs for Freedom is moving and optimistic – a shining example of what can be accomplished through creativity and diversionary practice from within the heart of a community.

The album Songs for Freedom was released in February 2023. The album is the work of numerous songwriters, musicians, and other creatives, coming together under the name The Freedom Collective.

Produced by Grammy Award-winning musician Lucky Oceans, Songs for Freedom features lead vocal contributions from Naomi Pigram, Patrick Churnside, Fred Ryan, Vikki Thorn (The Waifs), Kendall Smith, Kankawa Nagarra (Olive Knight), Jay Jarome and John Bennett. The album was recently selected as ABC Country’s Album of the Week.

Songs for Freedom has been celebrated at the Perth Festival, in Darwin, and at MONA FOMA, Hobart.

Big hART acknowledges and expresses deep gratitude to the Ngarluma, Gadigal, Ngunnawal, Kulin, Yindjibarndi people as traditional custodians of the countries where we work.

Songs for Freedom National Tour:

Barangaroo Reserve, Barangaroo (Sydney)
Date: Saturday 2 September 2o23 – 6:00 pm
FREE ENTRY – No bookings required

Llewllyn Hall, William Herbert Place, Acton (Canberra)
Date: Saturday 9 September 2023 – 7.00pm

Melbourne Recital Centre, Sturt Street, Southbank (Melbourne)
Date: Friday 15 September 2023 – 7:30 pm

Ngurin Culural Centre, Roe Street, Roebourne (Western Australia)
Date: Saturday 23 September 2023 – 5:00pm
FREE ENTRY – No bookings required

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Songs for Freedom – courtesy of Big hART