Pitjantjantjara/ Mirning man Bart Willoughby hit the Stage at Live at the Bowl over the weekend with BLAKTIVISM. Bart is a founding member of No Fixed Address in the early '80s and Mixed Relations in the '90s, and his influence and artistry has forged a path for many to follow. He was the first Indigenous artist to score a feature film and is an imitable performer, multi-instrumentalist and innovator in his field. He received the inaugural Indigenous ARIA Australian Lifetime Achievement Award for his Outstanding Contribution to Indigenous Music in Australia, and has worked with a cultural who’s who, from the Black Arm Band to the students he has taught and mentored.
Bart Willoughby was taken away from his family as a child, going on to spend his formative years in boys’ homes and institutions. Beside the common daily challenges of every Aboriginal citizen, he endured years bedridden in hospital as a kid and survived a heart attack a few years ago. “I’ve been given a second chance. That gave me something else to think about.” He credits music as his driving force – his love – to carry on and follow a fulfilling path. “Locked up at a young age, all I had was my music. It was a love. I’d never felt love before. How can an instrument give you love? That’s what my magic is.”
He has gone on to play New York’s Madison Square Garden, London’s Albert Hall and almost every stage in this land. He toured with Ian Dury (“a great musician and beautiful human being”), Jackson Browne and Peter Tosh. His first full solo album, Proud, was released in 2013. Awards include the Australia Council Fellowship, enabling the development of the organ project.