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Indigenous album gives language new life

Annie Louey

A dying Indigenous language could be given a second chance through next month’s release of a new Noongar language album.
Indigenous album gives language new life

Image: Gareth Andersen

The album is performed by singer Gina Williams and guitarist Guy Ghouse, who were named the Indigenous Act of the year in 2013 by the Western Australia Music Industry (WAMI).

Williams and Ghouse aim to revive the Noongar language, which is spoken only in a south west corner of WA by a handful of people.

'There are less than 250 full Noongar language speakers left – we’re beyond critically endangered, and in terms of the fight for survival I think this music is a really beautiful weapon of choice,' said Williams.

Williams’ own daughters, Lauren and Bella McGill, debut on the album, making it a family affair.

It became Williams' personal mission to write and sing in the Noongar language after being inspired by her mother and grandmother, who were part of the stolen generations. As a result, they were forbidden from speaking their native languages.  

Family has also been a cornerstone in Ghouse’s career, which kicked off when he started playing the guitar at the age of eight. He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who have a musical background dating back to the 1920s.

The entire process - from writing to mastering the album - was done on Noongar country with the help of local musicians and creative individuals.

The duo believes the songs about love, loss and joy will transcend language barriers. 

Titled 'Kalyakoorl', meaning ‘forever’, the album is about sharing the special place in which we live and our responsibility to preserve it for our children.

With the blessings of the Noongar community and its elders, Williams and Guy are finally ready to share their music, their friendship and most importantly, their language.

Kalyakoorl will be launched on Friday 4 April at the Fly By Night Musicians Club in Freemantle. Tickets can be purchased through the Fly By Night website.

About the author

Annie Louey is a Melbourne-based stand-up comedian and third-year student journalist from Monash University. She enjoys cycling and attending all kinds of festivals.