Songs From The Heart is a brand-new creative collaboration between The Song Company and Indigenous composers and singers Elizabeth Sheppard and Sonya Holowell. Elizabeth and Sonya are working together with Artistic Director, Antony Pitts, and seven of The Song Company’s Principal and Ensemble Artists to create an a cappella presentation directly inspired by the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
As we journey through uncertain times, some things become more certain and necessary than ever. For all of us who live in Australia, engaging directly with the experience of our First Nations hosts is the meaningful way forward into the future. The Song Company has been fortunate to be able to work alongside Indigenous artists and musicians over many years, from William Barton to dance company Karul Projects in recent projects, Four-Colour-Season (2018) and Arms of Love (2021).
In Songs From The Heart, the third MainStage tour of our 2021 season, INTO THE HEART, the text and principles underlying the Uluru Statement are the direct focus and inspiration of Elizabeth and Sonya’s musical creativity. Expect the unexpected from our unaccompanied singers on stage, confronting the past and the present with newly-created music, and be moved by its intense beauty and raw emotion.
We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.
This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.
How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.
Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.
These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.
We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.
We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.
We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.
In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country . We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.