Premiere: Briggs - ‘The Children Came Back’

To coincide with NAIDOC week the Shepparton hip hop star pays homage to Archie Roach’s classic ‘They Took the Children Away.’

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02 July 2015, 11:45pm

Shepparton hip hop star Briggs’ latest track “The Children Came Back” advances and pays homage to Archie Roach’s classic 1990 song “They Took the Children Away”.

Whereas Roach’s track was a powerful indictment of the treatment of indigenous children from the ‘Stolen Generation’, “The Children Came Back”, released to coincide with NAIDOC week, is a celebration of Aboriginal people and their achievements with Briggs giving a roll call of famous musicians and sportspeople including; Lionel Rose, Jimmy Little, Adam Goodes, Cathy Freeman and Patty Mills.

With Gurrumul and Dewayne Everettsmith adding vocals, the song features traditional instrumentation including clap sticks, a yidaki from North East Arnhem Land, and a haunting chant from the B2M, a group of musicians from the Tiwi Islands.

The video features Briggs, Everettsmith, Archie Roach, Paul Kelly and 3-year old Samara Muir who recently made national headlines with her distressing experience of racism by kids her own age.

We caught up with Briggs to find out more.

Noisey: Did you feel a heightened sense of responsibility in reworking and advancing Archie Roach’s powerful “They Took The Children Away”?
Briggs: I definitely felt a sense of responsibility to do it justice. Archie’s song is a definite pillar of Aboriginal music that people found healing and comfort with. I wanted to celebrate that song along with the Indigenous heroes that I name check in it.

There are many references to sporting and musical heroes. How did you choose who to include?
Originally the concept was created and written in 10 days so whatever came to mind first was what hit the microphone. I’m also Victorian so I had to represent for my Yorta-Yorta people.

In the first verse I name check contemporary heroes like Adam Goodes, the second I name check historic heroes like Sir Doug Nicholls and William Cooper and in the third I name check my grandfather, dad and his brothers - my family heroes.

The video and song also brings together people and musicians from urban and rural communities such as Gurrumul and Dewayne Everettsmith.
I really wanted the song to be inclusive of the many different Indigenous Nations of Australia. I also wanted to work with people which whom I share a friendship and bond with. I think that us coming together on one project like this says a lot about the diversity in Australia’s own indigenous cultures.

How did Samara end up in the video? She is a scene stealer!
I had intended to have some scenes stolen. But seriously, Samara was the right girl for the job. It wasn’t until after we shot I had heard about her unfortunate incident, which to me I think says a lot more about Samara than me acting like a ‘saviour’. Samara is a bright, beautiful little girl. I hope she can look back on this and remember how awesome she is.

You address the Australian Prime Minister with the line “Now Mr Abbott, think about it, me and you we feel the same that might sound strange, I’m just saying, we both unsettled when the boats came.” If you could speak directly to him what would you say?
I think my friend here has already said it.

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