Bart Willoughby Honored with New Exhibition at Arts Centre Melbourne

Bart Willoughby Honored with New Exhibition at Arts Centre Melbourne

In a testament to his enduring impact on Australian music, Bart Willoughby, the 2024 APRA AMCOS Ted Albert Award Winner for Outstanding Services to Australian Music, is being celebrated with a new display at the Australian Music Vault in Arts Centre Melbourne. The exhibit offers a glimpse into Willoughby’s remarkable 50-year career as a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, showcasing his groundbreaking achievements and contributions to the music landscape. Bart Willoughby Honored with New Exhibition at Arts Centre Melbourne

Born in 1960 on the Koonibba Aboriginal Mission near Ceduna, South Australia, Willoughby emerged from the Stolen Generations, confronting adversity with resilience and creativity. His journey into the world of music began at the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music, where he co-founded No Fixed Address in 1978 alongside Ricky Harrison, Leslie Lovegrove Freeman, and John John Miller.

The band’s debut album, From My Eyes (1982), featuring the iconic protest anthem “We Have Survived,” established them as pioneers of Indigenous Australian music, blending reggae with traditional influences to create a sound that resonated both locally and internationally. No Fixed Address’s impact extended beyond music charts; they became cultural ambassadors, advocating for Indigenous rights and challenging societal norms. Willoughby’s influence continued to grow, earning him accolades such as the Indigenous ARIA Australian Lifetime Achievement Award and an Order of Australia for his service to the performing arts and music.

Throughout his career, Willoughby broke barriers, becoming the first Indigenous Australian artist to score a feature film and to perform on the Melbourne Town Hall’s Grand Organ. His collaborations with renowned acts like Coloured Stone, Yothu Yindi, and Black Arm Band further cemented his legacy as a trailblazer in Australian music.

The unveiling of the display at the Australian Music Vault not only celebrates Willoughby’s achievements but also recognizes his role in shaping the country’s musical landscape. It serves as a reminder of the power of music to transcend boundaries, spark change, and unite communities. As visitors explore the exhibit, they are invited to reflect on Willoughby’s journey, his contributions to Australian music, and the ongoing legacy he continues to build through mentoring young Indigenous musicians.

The Australian Music Vault, a free exhibition and a cornerstone of the Victorian Government’s Music Works strategy, embodies the spirit of collaboration between the government and the music industry. It is a testament to the richness and diversity of Australia’s musical heritage, offering a space for enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the country’s vibrant music scene, past, present, and future.

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