The journey begins….
“Perhaps it is in the words of Joe Geia’s bicentennial lament ‘Yil Lull’ (1988) that we can find the quintessential mix of grief and hope, acknowledgement of the past and optimism for the future, that has characterised Indigenous popular music in recent decades; ‘I sing for the red and the blood that was shed… and I’m singing for the gold and the new year, young and old… now I’m singing just for you…”
— Sian Prior Music in Melbourne – Celebration and Survival [11.02.2011]
Although Geia originally wrote Yil Lull dedicated to the new Aboriginal flag in the early 70s and performed it at many concerts it wasn’t recorded until 1988 when it appeared on his 1988 album of the same name. Yill Lull means sing in Guugu Yimithirr. The colours used in the lyrics are the colours of the Aboriginal flag and it is often described as the Aboriginal anthem.
The album was considered vitally important among Aboriginal people, and was well-timed to express a growing sense of pride in culture and identity, and hope for the political fight for land rights. As Geia says, the Aboriginal flag that flies beside the Australian flag across Australia is the silent flag — it too should have a song (anthem).
The following is a small snapshot of Yil Lull’s journey but is by no means the complete or definitive list. As you will see Yil Lull has travelled many miles…. places not listed below include China, Japan, Malaysia. as well as many important ceremonies including at the handover of Uluru.
Geia performed Yil Lull at the Building Bridges Concert and recorded for the Building Bridges Album.
“Building Bridges was the theme of a concert held at Sydney’s Bondi Pavillion on January 24, 1988. Organised as an expression of solidarity and support for Black Australia in our struggle for recognition during White Australia’s bicentenary, the concert was a great success as thousands of Australians of all nationalities rocked on in a spirit of harmony, unity, friendship, happiness and mutual respect.”
“It is to that spirit of peace, harmony and mutual cooperation and respect that this album is dedicated…” Gary Foley (from Building Bridges liner notes, 1988).
Yil Lull music video clip is aired regularly on the ABC’s Rage music program. This video clip can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/ Joe Geia – Yil Lull (1988) as well as a more recent clip from the London Murunduk concert where Geia performed with The Black Arm Band (Youtube/ Joe Geia Yil Lull /Black Arm Band performance in London June 08).
Geia has taken his song Yil Lull across Australia from Melbourne- Adelaide – Alice Springs – Ernabella – Kintore – Papunya – Katherine – Fitzroy Crossing – Broome – Darwin – Mt Isa – Townsville – Palm Island and Kuranda.
and then overseas to Ireland (1982); Italy (1989) and Europe.
1990 Nelson Mandela Concert
Geia was honoured to perform Yil Lull for Nelson Mandela when he visited in 1990 where he opened the music program at the Melbourne Entertainment Centre.
Paul Kelly performs Yil Lull on his album Hidden Things. (See review below).
Hidden Things includes the lovely “Yil Lull” written by Joe Geia and performed with Friends and Relations. “Yil Lull”, which means “sing” in the Gugugimidhir language from the Cooktown area, is an anthem for black Australia”
A tour of Europe followed in 1995 performing in Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium.
2006 Dreamtime at the G
“4 May 2006 – MICHAEL Long has just about done it all when it comes to the MCG. Twice he received premiership medals, once he was judged the best player in a grand final and many times he stood up against racism in sport and enthralled the crowd with his speed and skill.
But on Saturday night he will break new ground when he joins several of Australia’s biggest names in music in the chorus of Yil Lull, the song by North Queensland composer Joe Geia that has become an anthem for Indigenous Australia.
Among them will be Paul Kelly, Christine Anu, Peter Garrett, Renee Geyer and Kutcha Edwards.“
In 2014 Yil lull will be performed once again at the G!
” Yil Lull has travelled many miles…. often without Geia (who describes his song as like “giving birth to a child who grows up and travels without its parent”). It is sung by many renowned performers both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Many choirs both here in Australia and overseas for example Wales and the UK. It appears in the ABC Children’s song book as well as many resources for schools and in 2012 – listed in the Arts Council’s list of “50 Must Listen Black Songs” http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/artforms/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-arts/50-must-listen-black-songs
In May 2014 Joe Geia will be performing Yil Lull at the Naples Festival where another audience will be introduced to this much-loved song.
The journey continues…