Sixty years ago, in June 1957, seven men led a strike for human rights on Palm Island, off the coast of North Queensland. In an era of institutionalised segregation and discrimination, the Aboriginal Protection Act saw residents of missions and settlements held under servitude to its white administrators, forced into a living hell where their every move was monitored and reviewed. One man, Albie Geia, was determined to resist and was labeled a ‘trouble-maker’. To the surprise of the superintendent, six other men joined in protest and held the Palm Island Strike.
Mission Songs Project, an initiative to research and revive contemporary Indigenous folk songs from the 20th century, presents a musical journey of missions, settlements and reserves across Australia. Concluding on Palm Island, Jessie Lloyd and her band explores the stories and songs that both predate and supersede these historic events. The YIRRAMBOI performance features Joe Geia, a pioneer in Australian Aboriginal music, son to Albie Geia, and Jessie’s father. Joe Geia connects the past, present and future, a living example of the intergenerational song traditions still practiced by Indigenous people and a senior songman whose hit song ‘Yil Lull’ is widely recognised as the Aboriginal national anthem.
Joe Geia (Gugu Yimithirr/Kaurareg)
Jessie Lloyd (Gugu Yimithirr/Kaurareg)
Emma Donovan (Gumbainggir/Danggali & Naaguji/Yamitji)
Deline Briscoe (Gugu Yalanji)
Jessica Hitchcock (Saibai)
Clint Bracknell (Noongar)
Presented by Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ program and made possible through a City of Melbourne Annual Arts Grant.
Mission Songs Project – Palm Island Strike of 1957 was produced with the assistance of Campbelltown City Council through Campbelltown Arts Centre’s 2017 Contemporary Music Indigenous Artist Residency Program.