Australian Music Giants Olivia Newton-john, Judith Durham, And Archie Roach: Their Loss And Legacy

Australian Music Giants Olivia Newton-john, Judith Durham, And Archie Roach: Their Loss And Legacy

There is no need to feel alone if you have had Georgy Girl, Hopelessly Devoted to You, or Took the Children Away swirling in your head and heart over the past two weeks.

In the last few months, we have lost three giants of Australian music, and the hole they have left is enormous.

After news of Olivia Newton-John’s death filtered in that she had passed away at the age of 73, fans around the globe shared their memories of her and what she represented to them.

ONJ is one of those people who is inextricably linked to a point in our lives at which he lived.

Australian Music Giants Olivia Newton-john, Judith Durham, And Archie Roach: Their Loss And Legacy

I remember watching Grease at my friend’s house when I was a little girl. It was a film that felt like it was part of a rite of passage, as much for its story as for its catchphrases.

After watching it, you felt like you had joined a club, and Sandy’s sweet Australian accent drew us in.

Since I grew up in the 80s in a culturally dominant United States, Sandy was a beacon for me.

Rydell High was thrown into a tizzy when that wonderful flat Australian accent appeared.

At this point, ONJ had already sold millions of records, but Grease made her an icon, and I was proud to be an Australian.

She took her identity to the world stage and made it accessible to everyone.

Throughout her incredible philanthropy and advocacy for cancer patients, she showed young artists like Kylie Minogue that they could do it too.

Judith Durham had paved the way for Liv to become the frontwoman of The Seekers more than a decade earlier.

As a member of the first Australian band to achieve global success, this soprano from Essendon in Melbourne held one of the purest voices in the entire music industry.

There was a time when the band sold millions of albums, rivaling the Beatles, and blazing a trail for any and every Australian artist who dreamed of being able to make it in the UK in the 60s.

My parents were fans of folk-pop music as well and I grew up in Essendon as well.

I had never heard Judith’s voice before, and it was like nothing I had ever heard before. The feeling was both strong and sweet at the same time. There was such an effortless way in which the harmonies flowed around one another.

When the Seekers’ records played on our old turntable, I would feel as though anything was possible when I listened to them. An anthem that became a pop anthem was Georgy Girl. It was ours, and we were proud of it.

It is safe to say that both Judith and Olivia shared their flawless voices with the world, free of any effects or acrobatics.

I felt that it was a shot to the heart of brilliant craftsmanship and pure joy and we all felt that it reflected the glory of their success in every way.

Archie Roach was one of the greatest storytellers and ambassadors that we have ever had.

It was once Uncle Archie who told me that he hoped that by sharing his story, other people would be able to share theirs as well.

Following his passing, his family gave permission for his name and image to be used in order to make sure that his legacy would continue to inspire people for generations to come.

It was when he wrote and released his debut single, Took the Children Away, that our national conversation was changed forever. His lightning-bolt moment gave voice to hurt and injustice that had not been acknowledged and he continued to sing his story for decades after that moment.

Besides paving the way for the National Apology, he educated multiple generations on a history that had not been taught, and he crafted some of the most incredible songs I have ever heard in my life.

Through his foundation, he ensures that the next generation of Indigenous Australian artists has all the support they need to share their stories with the world.

As soon as I saw Archie Roach play for the first time, I was knocked for six. I can only describe his songcraft as sublime, the melodies he wrote (alone and with Ruby Hunter) are some of the most beautiful Australian music that we have ever heard.

I also love the voice that she has. The music he composed was so deeply soulful, that you could hear the many lives he lived in every note he played.

It was within the midst of it all that he extended his hand to invite you to walk with him on his journey.

These three giants have passed away this past fortnight, but their legacies have not been lost. Olivia, Judith, and Archie shared their Australia with the world and reflected it back to us through their experiences. They made us feel proud, they made us think, they made us dance and they made us sing.

There is no doubt that we are extraordinarily lucky to live in a time when such talent was at its peak.