Media release – Big hART, 17 February 2023


Songwriters from Western Australia’s vast Pilbara will come together for an evening of songs and story—guided by Ngarluma and Yinjibarndi Elders—in Songs For Freedom. This free concert and cultural ceremony takes place on MONA’s lawns, as part of MONA FOMA, with Hobart audiences encouraged to enjoy a night under the stars.

Joined by special guests, including much loved artists Kutcha Edwards, John Bennett, Kankawa Nagarra, Tehya Makani, Naomi Pigram, Jay Jerome, Dewayne Everettsmith, Fred Ryan and Rose Pat, the Songs From Freedom band will honour the family of John Pat who died in custody, aged 16, in 1983. His passing triggered the Royal Commission into deaths in custody.

Presented by the community of Ieramugadu (Roebourne, WA) and leading arts and social change organisation Big hART, in partnership with MONA FOMA, Songs For Freedom is the culmination of more than ten years of songwriting, music workshops and performances.

Under the musical direction of Grammy Award-winning artist Lucky Oceans, Songs For Freedom offers heartfelt messages of freedom and hope from the Pilbara mob—in their own words. The performance is set to fill the night sky with songs of hope, peace, freedom and country.

The concert also celebrates the release of an album of the same name. This collection of 16 songs and stories, selected from close to 100 songs written and workshopped by community since 2011, are performed by a long and outstanding list of Australian musicians coming together under the name of The Freedom Collective.

Allery Sandy, Yindjibarndi Elder and Cultural Advisor and performer with Big hART says: ‘We are thrilled to bring stories of strength from our community to nipaluna / Hobart audiences through this powerful project that supports our community to thrive and speak truth to the nation, together.’

Musical Director Lucky Oceans says: ‘Songs For Freedom is a full-hearted collaboration—an ongoing process of creation with the community of Roebourne for more than 10 years. The people of Roebourne have shared their voices, music and songs so generously and really bring a sense of community to the stage. It’s a unique and inspiring thing to be a part of.’

Songs For Freedom at MONA FOMA marks the 40th anniversary of John Pat’s death and aims to raise awareness about the disproportionate number of Aboriginal young people caught up in the justice system. Concert-goers are encouraged to pledge their support for new approaches and legislative reform.

Big hART acknowledges and expresses deep gratitude to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community Elders and their custodians past, present of lutruwita (Tasmania) on whose Country this concert is performed.

Date: Thursday 23 February

Time: Doors 17:00; Cultural Ceremony 18:00; Performance 19:00

Venue: MONA Lawns, MONA

Duration: 150 minutes (including interval)

Ticket Price: Free

MONA FOMA is in Launceston from 17–19 February and nipaluna / Hobart from 24–26 February 2023.