The Australia Council for the Arts today expressed its deep sorrow at the sudden passing of one of Australiaís leading artistic treasures, Ruby Hunter.
Yant-el-au Nginti katjeri Ngarrindjeri mimini Nakan ya
(Peace be with you beautiful Ngarrindjeri woman. See you.)
God ngum-angk yari ngarni thuldan
(God be with you ëtil we all meet againî)
A proud Ngarrindjeri mimini (woman) from South Australia, Ruby was one of Australiaís pioneering Indigenous singer/songwriters and the first Aboriginal woman in Australia to be signed to a major record label (Mushroom) following the release of her debut album Thoughts Within, in 1994.
Born at a billabong near the banks of the Murray River in South Australia in 1955. Ruby was a member of the Stolen Generations. She was forcibly removed from her family at the age of eight. She met her lifelong partner and musical soul mate Archie Roach when she was 16, when both were homeless teenagers.
Dr Mark Bin Bakar, Chairman, Australia Councilís Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board expressed his heartfelt condolences to Archie Roach, their children and family on behalf of the organisation and the arts community; both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and the non Indigenous communities.
‘Ruby was the rock that kept Archie and their children aloft in a world of challenges to strive to reach the ultimate heights in the arts community. She was the inspiration and empowerment of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and her compassion for others and life was what made her shine. Your loss is our loss and while you may have lost a wife and mother, you have gained a guardian angel.’
Kathy Keele, Chief Executive Officer of the Australia Council expressed the sadness felt throughout the organisation at Ms Hunterís passing.
ëRubyís life and her musical journey have long been a source of inspiration. The Australia Council today joins the arts community in mourning this loss.’
Rubyís songs reflect her personal history. She is firmly established as a unique and powerful voice in Australian music. In 1990 Archie Roach made his first recording Charcoal Lane and one of the album highlights was the song, Down City Streets, written by Ruby Hunter. Ruby made her debut album in 1994, Thoughts Within, to which she received two ARIA Award nominations, Best Indigenous Release in 1995 and Best Blues & Roots Album for her next album Feeling Good in 2000.
She won various Deadly Awards including Female Artist of the Year in 2000, Outstanding Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music in 2003, and for Excellence in Film & Theatrical Score 2004.
She made her acting debut in One Night the Moon and along with Archie Roach and Paul Grabowsky she wrote and performed the concert Ruby’s Story which tells the story of her life through song and spoken word.
Ruby toured extensively and played alongside Joan Armatrading, Tracy Chapman and Bob Dylan and performed at the prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Music.
In recent years Ruby and Archie Roach enthralled audiences in Australia and overseas in Black Arm Bandís Murundak.