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Stories and songs of the people hosted in Coffs Harbour


Steve Spinks
5 April 2012
Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus will host a diverse mix of Indigenous musicians when a unique public concert called ‘Stories and Songs of the People’ is held on April 14.

The concert will showcase Australian Aboriginal, Native American and Tibetan music, storytelling and art as part of the Cultural and Educational Exchange Forums at the campus on April 13 and 14.

The inaugural Stories and Songs of the People concert was held in Melbourne in 1999. This was the first event involving Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from all over the world, producing two feature length documentaries that aired on ABC in 2000. These events were the beginning of a cultural and educational exchange that continues today.

Johnnie Aseron, a lecturer and international research liaison with the University’s Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, will be one of the performers during the concert. He was involved in the inaugural Stories and Songs of the People concert in 1999.

Mr Aseron is a Haudenosenee/Lakota Native American who resides on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. He is also a gifted musician, storyteller and artist and has performed at the Woodford Folk Festival, the Glastonbury Festival, the Manchester International Peace Festival and the Moomba Festival. He was also the focus of an ABC television ‘Message Stick’ documentary.

“The foundation of these Stories and Songs of the People events is our desire to see tolerance, understanding and acceptance between all peoples,” Mr Aseron said.

“The strength and wisdom found in our cultural diversity allows us to join together with many voices. It is through our voices, traditional and contemporary, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, that we have the opportunity to share a collective vision as we attempt to tackle many of the issue afflicting our society.

“We must learn to live with one another if we are to begin the healing process for our planet, ourselves, our future and that of the generations to come. We hope that our Coffs Harbour event can help in that endeavour.”

Other performers joining Mr Aseron on stage include Tom E Lewis and Tenzin Choegyal. Mr Lewis, a Murrungun man (South Eastern Arnhem Land), is a renowned Australian Aboriginal actor and musician. His first major role was the title role in the 1978 film ‘The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith’. His talents in both the musical and theatrical arena continue with leading roles in major films such as ‘Red Hill’ and the critically successful ‘The Proposition’. As a musician he is skilful on the didgeridoo, flute, clarinet and guitar.

Mr Choegyal, a Tibetan who lived in exile in India as a child but now resides in Australia, is renowned for his soaring vocals and flute and dranyen (long necked lute) playing. His performances continue to raise money for Tibetan monks living in exile as well as the Tibetan Children’s Village, a school for refugee children.

Work of contemporary Australian Indigenous artist Danielle Burford, a Wiradjuri woman from central NSW, will complete the show and will be on display in the foyer of the auditorium.

The concert, which is being supported by Southern Cross University, will be held from 7pm at the main auditorium. Tickets for the concert are $20 for adults, $15 student/concession, $10 for children 15 and under. Children under 10 are free. Tickets are available through the SCU Coffs Student Association (02 6659 3299), Galambila Aboriginal Health Service (02 6652 0800), or at the door. Further information can be found at

Photo: Tom E Lewis