The Australian Music Vault unveils a new display honouring 2024 Ted Albert Award winner Bart Willoughby

The Australian Music Vault pays homage to the achievements of the 2024 APRA AMCOS Ted Albert Award Winner for Outstanding Services to Australian music, Bart Willoughby with the unveiling of a new display at Arts Centre Melbourne.

The display is a glimpse into the pioneering singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s incredible 50-year career, during which he has amassed accolades, acclaim and trailblazing feats.

Items on display include percussion instruments from Willoughby’s personal collection including bongos used in video clip ‘Aboriginal Reggae’ and clapsticks gifted to him at Clancestry Festival, archival photographs from 70s and 80s, lyric sheets showcasing his civil rights activism along with LP cover and poster artwork of the game changing debut album ‘From My Eyes’ released by No Fixed Address in 1982.

Born in 1960 on the Koonibba Aboriginal Mission near Ceduna, South Australia, Willoughby is one of the Stolen Generations. In 1978, while studying at the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music, Willoughby teamed up with fellow University of Adelaide students Ricky Harrison, Leslie Lovegrove Freeman and John John Miller to form No Fixed Address. Their debut mini album From My Eyes (1982) features ‘We Have Survived’, a song penned by Willoughby nearly 50 years ago. To this day, it remains a seminal protest song against colonisation and the oppression of First Nations peoples.

Underpinned by Willoughby’s signature fusion of reggae and traditional Indigenous influences, No Fixed Address reached international acclaim and became the first Indigenous Australian band to appear on ABC’s Countdown, sign a record deal and tour overseas before disbanding in 1984.

Willoughby continued making history, becoming the first Indigenous Australian artist to score a feature film, Jindalee Lady (1992), and the first to play the Melbourne Town Hall’s Grand Organ for his performance of ‘We Still Live On’ in 2014. He has performed with acts including Coloured Stone, Mixed Relations, Goanna, Yothu Yindi and Black Arm Band.

In 1993, Willoughby was the inaugural recipient of the Indigenous ARIA Australian Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to Indigenous Music in Australia, and in 2023 received an Order of Australia for service to the performing arts and music. He currently fronts the Bart Willoughby Band and continues to share his passion through mentoring young Indigenous musicians.

The Award is named in honour of Ted Albert, founder of Albert Music, home of AC/DC, The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Billy Thorpe, and John Paul Young. It is one of music industry’s most prestigious awards with past recipients including Colin Hay, Colleen Ironside, Helen Reddy, Joy McKean

The Australian Music Vault is a FREE exhibition and a key initiative of the Victorian Government’s Music Works strategy, in support and collaboration with the music industry. It has been developed by Arts Centre Melbourne in consultation with the music industry and is a celebration of the Australian contemporary music story – past, present and future. It’s a place to explore your love of music, revisit some of the big music moments of your life and discover the exciting new stories of today’s Australian music scene.

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