★★★★☆ ‘…the entire collection is sublime.’ – The Australian
★★★★☆ ‘Lloyd’s project preserves a history…’ – The Age & Sydney Morning Herald
The debut album features 10 rare tracks from the Mission Songs Project collection as well as a 16 page booklet which includes lyrics and chords for each of the tracks.
- Own Native Land
- Outcaste Half-Caste
- The Irex
- Down in the Kitchen
- Hopkins River (feat. Monica Weightman)
- Old Cape Barron (feat. Jessica Hitchcock)
- Middle Camp
- Port Fort Hill
- Now Is the Hour Medley (feat. Lou Bennett, Leah Flanagan & Mere-Rose Paul)
- Hopkins River (feat. Archie Roach)
- The Irex (feat. Geia Sisters)
- Down In the Kitchen (feat. Alma Geia)
The Songs Back Home album information
Artist: Mission Songs Project / Jessie Lloyd
CD title: The Songs Back Home
Synopsis: 10 songs selected from a collection of Australian Indigenous songs from 1900 to 1999, focusing on the Christian missions, state-run settlements and native camps where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were relocated. Curated, arranged and produced by Jessie Lloyd.
Produced by Jessie Lloyd
Recorded at The Aviary Recording Studio, Melbourne
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Colin Leadbetter
Artwork by Joe Geia and Creative Design by Lyn Geia
Project Patrons and Advisors – Prof Marcia Langton AM and Archie Roach AM
Singers and Musicians:
Jessie Lloyd – vocals/ukulele/acoustic guitar
Monica Weightman – vocals/acoustic guitar
Leah Flanagan – vocals
Karrina Nolan – vocals
Jessica Hitchcock – vocals
Iain Grandage – piano/piano accordion
Ed Bates – pedal steel guitar
Rob Mahoney – double bass
Archie Roach – vocals/acoustic guitar (track 11)
Lillian Geia – vocals/ukulele (tracks 10 & 12)
Lynelda Tippo – vocals (tracks 10 & 12)
Alma Geia – vocals (track 13
1. OWN NATIVE LAND Composed by Albert ‘Albie’ Edward Geia
This song was written by Albie Geia shortly after leading the 1957 strike on Palm Island with six other Indigenous men. The strike was against the discriminatory treatment of Indigenous people, after a petition to the superintendent demanding improved wages, health, housing and working conditions, was ignored. As punishment, Albie and his family were removed to Woorabinda, Qld.
2. OUTCAST HALF-CASTE Composed by Micko Donovan and Mary Deroux
This song was written by Micko Donovan and Mary Deroux of northern New south Wales about growing up half-caste, a now derogatory term, used to describe Indigenous people of mixed heritage. The term was one of many devised in the policy to assimilate or ‘breed out’ Aborigines, and part of the misinformed theories of the ‘survival of the fittest’ that were deployed to result in Aboriginal extinction. Micko was raised on a mission and learned to play music from the local missionaries.
3. THE IREX Composer unknown
The Irex was the boat that transported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from the mainland settlements governed by the Native Affairs officers or missionaries to Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement in Queensland. The Palm Island settlement was known as a ‘punishment island’ for those who committed misdemeanours on other government settlements or missions. A strike was organized by the Aboriginal residents in 1957 to protest the brutal conditions.
4. DOWN IN THE KITCHEN Composed by Alma Geia
This song is from the children’s dormitories on Palm Island, Queensland. It was composed by one of the residents, Alma Geia, in the 1920s. This innocent tune gives some insight into the living conditions of children who were removed from their families and placed in the segregated dormitories and how they made light of tough times.
5. HOPKINS RIVER Composed by Alice Clarke
A song brought to the project by senior songman Archie Roach. This song comes from Framlingham mission in southwest Victoria, which was founded near the Hopkins River. It was from here that Archie was forcibly removed from his family which inspired him to write his classic song “Took the Children Away”. Hopkins River was written by Archie’s grandmother’s sister, Alice Clarke.
6. OLD CAPE BARREN Composer unknown
The Tasmanian Aboriginal community have a long history with Cape Barren Island but the last 200 years has been the most brutal act of genocide and oppression. The islanders have always maintained a strong presence and connection to Cape Barren, including cultural practices such as mutton birding. This beautiful song paints a picture into the old days, full of love and loss. It is an honour to have our Tasmanian brothers and sisters represented in Mission Songs Project.
7. MIDDLE CAMP Composed by Eric Craigie
Middle Camp was an Aboriginal camp set up on the fringes of the township of Moree in New South Wales. It was one of three camps and was closed down at some point by the local shire. Composed by Eric Craigie, this song is a protest ballad about displacement from his home when Middle Camp was closed. The lyrics and tune are full of optimism, resilience and determination, and love of the old community of the camp.
8. SURRARE Composer Unknown
A song from the Torres Straits, Surrare is a song about hunting a seabird that is sung in Ailan Kriol language. The Western Island language name for seagull is ‘Saora Leh’ and pronunciation has changed over time in various places. The final verse is Cowral Mut, a ‘curry feathered small bird’ and it sings of hunting inland as opposed to hunting coastal. This track incorporates all three versions although excluding the Western Island language words in the 3rd verse. The song was made popular by Joe Geia on his first solo album Yil Lull.
9. PORT FORT HILL Composer Unknown
A song from Darwin during the Second Word War, Fort Hill was a location where the Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander men used to scout for enemy ships and spies to keep the town safe. During the post-war years the Australian Half Caste Progress Association held weekly fund-raising dances at The Sunshine Club in a decommissioned Army barracks. This was one of the songs that was performed during those times.
10. NOW IS THE HOUR MEDLEY Traditional
This song, also known as the Maori Farewell, is a heartfelt tune adopted by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on missions in the early 20th century. The Maori wives sang it to their husbands as they left to fight in WWI. It was then shared among the ANZACs including Aboriginal soldiers. The hymn Search Me Oh God was composed by a missionary from New Zealand using the same melody and is well know on many Aboriginal missions. Guest vocals are by Lou Bennett, Leah Flanagan and Mere-Rose Paul.
*Dedicated to Alma Dawn Geia (1921 – 2016)
Mission Songs Project Sponsors and Supporting Programs:
State Library of Victoria – Creative Fellowship 2016
National Library of Australia – Folk Fellowship 2017
South Australian Museum – Tindale Collection, AA346 Board for Anthropological Research Collection
Archie Roach Foundation
Australia Council for the Arts
Australian Performing Rights Association
Campbelltown Arts Centre
Originally from the tropics of North Queensland, Jessie Lloyd is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musician who performs a broad collection of Australian Indigenous songs. A vocalist, guitarist, bassist and ukulele player, Jessie earned her formal qualifications at Abmusic in Perth, WA in 2002.
An award winning composer, performer and creative entrepreneur, Jessie is a cultural practitioner of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music. Dedicated to the continuation of cultural traditions through the presentation of both contemporary and traditional Indigenous music.
Jessie has travelled Australia in search of hidden songs to present this rare Indigenous narrative. From the Bass Strait to the Torres Strait and across the Arafura Sea, Jessie has spent time with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander senior song men and women, uncovering precious stories and songs from the mission days.