Blackfella/Whitefella- Warumpi Band

In 1980, Australian musician Neil Murray  moved to the Aboriginal community of Papunya in Australia, where he worked as a teacher. Here, Murray met local brothers Gordon  and Sammy Tjapanangka of...

In 1980, Australian musician Neil Murray  moved to the Aboriginal community of Papunya in Australia, where he worked as a teacher.

Here, Murray met local brothers Gordon  and Sammy Tjapanangka of the Luritja people, and they were joined by Sammy’s brother-in-law George Rrurrambu Burarrwanga from the  Yolngu people. Murray provided rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Gordon on drums, Sammy on guitar and bass, and Burarrwanga on vocals and the didgeridoo, a typical aboriginal instrument. The name of the band, ‘Warumpi’, derives from the Luritja word for a “honey-ant dreaming site”, which lies near Papunya. The band has had many different members during the years, with the only consistent ones being Murray and George, who infact wrote this song.

Blackfella/Whitefella is an country rock song which was released as the sole single of the band’s album Big Name, No Blankets, in 1985. It touches on the issue of racism in Australia by encouraging unity and harmony; whilst the lyrics are very simple, the message it carries is very strong. It is also on point that Murray (a whitefella) and Burarrwanga (a blackfella) wrote the song together, trying to convey the simple concept of living together in harmony and in truth.

It doesn’t matter, which religions
It’s all the same when the, ship is sinking

The Warumpi band was the first band to ever release a rock and roll song in Aboriginal language.

Burarrwanga was inspired by music pioneers like Chuck Berry, and other American blues music. His energy in the stage can be compared to Mick Jagger’s, no matter his age, he put his everything in his performances. His last performance at the Womad New Plymouth is still remembered by many. He died in 2007 at the age of 50. In this Sound, you can se a live performance from 1987, in which the true essence and heart of the band is very well portrayed.

Black fella, white fella
It doesn’t matter, what your colour
As long as you, a true fella
As long as you, a real fella

All the people, of different races
With different lives, in different places
It doesn’t matter, what your name is
We got to have, lots of changes

We need more brothers, if we’re to make it
We need more sisters, if we’re to save it

Are you the one that’s gonna stand up and be counted?
Are you the one who’s gonna be there when we shout it?
Are you the one that’s always ready with a helping hand?
Are you the one who understands these family plans?

Black fella, white fella
Yellow fella, any fella
It doesn’t matter, what your colour
As long as you, a true fella

All the people, of different races
With different lives, in different places
It doesn’t matter, which religions
It’s all the same when the, ship is sinking

We need more brothers, if we’re to make it
We need more sisters, if we’re to save it

Are you the one that’s gonna stand up and be counted?
Are you the one who’s gonna be there when we shout it?
Are you the one that’s always ready with a helping hand?
Are you the one who understands these family plans?

Oh stand up, stand up and be counted
Oh stand up, stand up and be counted

Are you the one that’s gonna stand up and be counted?
Are you the one who’s gonna be there when we shout it?
Are you the one that’s always ready with a helping hand?
Are you the one who understands these family plans?

Oh stand up, stand up and be counted
Oh stand up, stand up and be counted

Blackfella/Whitefella- Warumpi Band
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Virginia Vigliar

Virginia is a freelance journalist and editor based in Barcelona, consults for Oxfam in Spain and the Netherlands, and she is the Chief Editor of WIB. She is a passionate advocate of human rights and freedom of speech. And a meme enthusiast. She has worked in the development sector in Malawi and Kenya and Somalia before returning to Europe, where she gained experience in the United Kingdom, Norway, and Spain. To see her work, look at her website here: http://virginiavigliar.com/
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