The Spirit of Churaki is launching an album based on the acclaimed stage production.
The epic live musical collaboration was created to honour the memory of Churaki, an Aboriginal man heralded as the Gold Coast’s first lifesaver. The World Premiere of The Spirit of Churaki, produced and commissioned by Bleach* The Gold Coast Festival, was presented at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to a rave reviews, both crowd and critical. Since then word of the collaboration has spread like wildfire, with Woodford picking it up for last year’s event and Sydney’s Vivid LIVE offering the show an upcoming slot in the Opera House on 27 May. Now the album based on the stage show is heading our way in April. Lead artist Kyle Slabb reflects on the reaction to the show so far.
“We’ve had the most amazing feedback. One of the oldest ladies in our community actually came to the show and said ‘this is the best thing that our community as ever produced’. For an old lady to say that! I mean our community has been prominent in a lot of areas, we have some great leaders and there have been many things people have done before that we’ve been inspired by. For me, this tells me we achieved what we set out to do and probably more. I was really happy about that.”
The Spirit of Churaki soundtrack rides the perfect wave between rocking surf tunes, laid back oceanic beats, beautiful ballads and the ancient sounds of Aboriginal language. The collaboration was built over a three-year process which shared cultural material of songs and stories. This music is a tribute to Churaki as a man but also to a rich lineage of saltwater people, a spirit of generosity, a deep connection to country and cultural obligation. The show has been described as “reconciliation in action”, and I wonder what Kyle thinks about that idea.
“Yes absolutely it’s about that. I think for me the cultural obligation is the strongest theme. Reconciliation is more the outcome of everyone doing what they need to do. I think it’s everybody’s responsibility, I think everybody as individuals and human beings living on the land, we have a responsibility to each other and to the land. There’s lots of issues that we need to consider as a nation of Australia, we all need to ask those questions.”
The show was brought together under the musical direction of American rock legend Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes) in collaboration with the local indigenous community including musicians and lead artist Kyle along with Jarulah (Juz) Slabb, Josh Slabb, Kaleb Slabb and Colin Usher. The show also features an extraordinary line up of touring Australian musicians including Fred Leone (Impossible Odds, Black Arm Band), Leah Flanagan, Greg Sheehan Sam Pankhurst and Veronique Serret.
With so many contributors, and a desire to record the album live (which was achieved), scheduling became the biggest challenge, explains Kyle.
“Just getting the people together was the hardest part of it! When we all got together – everyone loves getting together and jamming – we recorded the songs live in the studio, so it really is a collective kind of feel to everything, and everyone contributing at the same time.”
The Spirit of Churaki was the most ambitious project that the Festival has ever commissioned and has continued to inspire and ignite audiences where ever it goes. This unique collection of music is like nothing else being produced or presented in Australia.
To celebrate the release of the album, The Spirit of Churaki will be showcasing a special performance at the Gold Coast’s Dust Temple on 22 April. All are welcome. Bleach* will be officially releasing the album on 26 April. The Spirit of Churaki will be performed at Sydney Opera House for Vivid LIVE on Monday 27 May to mark the start of National Reconciliation Week. More information here.