Neil Murray first appeared in the early eighties as a founding member of the Warumpi Band, which, over three albums (Big Name, No Blankets, Go Bush, Too Much Humbug) and twenty years of performing, propelled contemporary Indigenous music into mainstream Australia, yielding such classic songs as My Island Home, Blackfella Whitefella, Fitzroy Crossing, Jailanguru Pakarnu, Stompin’ Ground, From the Bush and Waru.
Neil Murray has since become one of Australia’s most respected and influential singer/songwriters and has enjoyed a solo career since 1989. He has released eleven solo albums with his latest being Sing the Song – the essential Neil Murray, a double album compilation of his best loved songs.
Neil Murray’s songwriting is diverse – from the rollicking Good Light in Broome to the environmental urgency of Burning Land to the prayerful Native Born, the endurance of love in Over the Moon, the journeyman monologues of Lights of Hay and Where My People Go, the reflection on mortality in High On a Hill, and the contemplation of place in Burrumbeep Hill and Tjapwurrung Country. His work collectively describes an inner landscape to the heart of the nation – a journey that has done much to deepen and strengthen Australia’s contemporary musical heritage.
Those who have read his novel Sing for Me Countryman (regarded as an Australian classic) or poetry book One Man Tribe, or listened to his spoken word CD Spoken or seen his play King For This Place or read his song lyrics in the published book Native Born would know of his affinity for the land and respect for Indigenous culture.
In 1995, Neil Murray was awarded the APRA song of the year for My Island Home originally written for the Warumpi Band and re-recorded by Christine Anu. The song has become something of an unofficial anthem and featured in the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
In 2005 Neil Murray received an environmental achievement award by the Glenelg-Hopkins Catchment Management Authority in western Victoria for his efforts in instigating Healing Walks along watercourses in the region and for being the inspiration behind establishment of the annual Lake Bolac Eel festival.
In 2007, Jailanguru Pakarnu – Out From Jail, a song he co-wrote in the Indigenous Luritja language with fellow Warumpi Band co-founder Sammy Butcher – was honoured by the National Film And Sound archives Sounds Of Australia series, as a significant recording in Australia’s musical heritage.
In 2010 My Island Home was published as a children’s book and the equally landmark Blackfella Whitefella was published as a children’s book in 2012 by One Day Hill.
Neil Murray performs regularly at festivals and live music venues in Australia and overseas. His albums are out through ABC music. And he is currently working on new recordings with producer Craig Pilkington.
See Neil with special guest Sarah Tindley on Saturday at the Bangalow Bowlo.