David Leha aka Radical Son has shared his soul-shaking new single, Elder, offering a deeply powerful statement of devotion to country, his Kamilaroi and Tongan cultures and his iron-willed intention to endure that sets neck hairs on end.
"Respect your elders", it's a phrase that carries, perhaps, the most significant weight in First Nations culture, where Elders are recognised as survivors, cultural knowledge holders and advocates for their community.
Elder comes paired with an equally commanding music video made in the Blue Mountains by Djugun/ Yawuru/ Gooniyandi director Cornel Ozies, and featuring rocker Vic Simms, Australian of the Year Shane Phillips, Forgiveness Project advocate Ray Minniecon, Kamilaroi elder Paul Spearim and more.
Radical Son is part of the long story. “I wish to be an elder, an old man on this land,” he sings in a voice so immense it seems to emanate from the rock beneath his feet.
Elder is the first taste of Biliyambil (The Learning), the highly anticipated second album by Radical Son, aka David Leha – which will also feature David Bridie,
Emma Donovan and Jida Gulpilil, set for release on David Bridie’s Wantok label in September. Elder is the keynote to the album’s themes of hard-won survival, belonging and acquiring wisdom from life experience. It’s a song sung from mountaintops, loaded with a storied past and fully facing the future.
“Elder is a song I began three or four years ago when I was working on country in Moree and Armadale, New South Wales,” David says. “I was working on a program with emerging artists called Yanayai, which means ‘returning’. I was helping these artists to create a piece in a genre of their choice and the conditions were that they had to have three generations of their family help them, and they also needed to incorporate some language into that as well.
“The bones of the song were there then. The language section from Jida Gulpilil (son of David), that came later. It's quite simple. It's just saying, ‘Let's move, let’s dance and celebrate’.”
Thematically, the song rings in harmony with For Our Elders: the theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week (2-9 July). “The struggles of our Elders help to move us forward today,” the NAIDOC statement declares. “The equality we continue to fight for is found in their fight. Their tenacity and strength has carried the survival of our people.”
Elder is released through Wantok Musik Foundation, distributed by MGM.