The Spirit of Churaki album launch: Live review and gallery | Monday 22 April 2019

My skin gets goosebumps whenever I hear the beautiful songs of The Spirit Of Churaki. And tonight’s live performance down at the Dust Temple Gallery had me bumpy all over again.

Churaki was a Goodjingburra man from the Bundjalung tribe, who performed the first documented act of lifesaving on the Gold Coast in 1911.

The performance – part of the 2019 Bleach* The Gold Coast Festival program – was the launch of the much anticipated album of The Spirit Of Churaki musical collaboration. The Spirit of Churaki was originally created for the 2018 Commonwealth Games as commissioned by Bleached Arts and performed on the beach in Surfers Paradise.

It’s the result of three years of collaboration between musicians from the Slabb family (Kyle, Kaleb, Jarulah and Josh), musical director Brian Ritchie (The Break, Violent Femmes) and select Australian artists. Since its debut in 2018, The Spirit of Churaki has been performed at HOTA, Home Of The Arts and the Woodford Folk Festival. Announced tonight, the next performance of The Spirit of Churaki will be at The Sydney Opera House. Not bad at all for a small Gold Coast / Northern NSW production.

The album is an infusion of traditional language, contemporary rock, beats and ballads and, no doubt courtesy of Ritchie’s influence, the occasional rocking surf tunes. Accompanied by narration from Kyle Slabb, Churaki’s story is told through song and the spoken word, much of it in the traditional Yugambeh language of the local Saltwater People. From my first experience with Churaki back in 2018, the music had a comforting familiarity, despite never having heard it before. So much so that I find myself singing along to the chorus of some songs. For someone with no indigenous heritage, I find this incredibly moving and a testament to the power of music and its ability to create connects and evoke strong emotion.

Whilst not all present for last night’s performance, The Spirit of Churaki ensemble comprises Brian Ritchie, Colin Usher, Fred Leone, Greg Sheehan, Josh Slabb, Jarulah Slabb, Kaleb Slabb, Kyle Slabb, Leah Flanagan, Sam Pankhurst, and Veronique Serret.

If you get the chance to see The Spirit of Churaki, GO. You won’t be disappointed. I for one am very happy that I’m now able to enjoy this beautiful music whenever the whim takes me.

IMAGES (c) Peter Wheeler Photography


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