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Singer/songwriter Ruby Hunter dies. -

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ELEANOR HALL: She was a member of the Stolen Generations who became one of Australia's top
Indigenous singer/songwriters. This morning Ruby Hunter died at the age of just 55.

Ms Hunter was the partner of another well known Indigenous musician Archie Roach.

Jennifer Macey has been looking at her life and career.

(Excerpt from song: Ngarrindjeri Woman - Ruby Hunter)

JENNIFER MACEY: Ruby Hunter was born by a billabong in the Riverland region of South Australia in
1955 of the Ngarrindjeri Kukatha and Pitjantjatjara people. She was taken from her family at the
age of eight. She told ABC TV's Talking Heads program that she could remember trying to hide behind
her mother's dress.

(Ruby Hunter singing)

RUBY HUNTER (archival): They come there and we were put in a black car and then we're taken down to
a place called Seaforth Children's Home. Four moons go pass and still we weren't going back home.
But the next day woke up and my sisters and my brothers were gone.

JENNIFER MACEY: Ruby Hunter was fostered by a white family and put in various institutions before
she was released to fend for herself on the streets.

It was at the Salvation Army centre, "the people's palace" that she met the Queensland Bundjalung
man Archie Roach who was travelling around Australia fruit picking. The two connected over their
shared past as members of the Stolen Generations. It was a shared trauma that only eased with the
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations.

RUBY HUNTER (archival): I noticed when I was walking down the street people were smiling at me and
acknowledging, you know. This is beautiful. How come they didn't do this before?

(Archie Roach singing)

JENNIFER MACEY: Archie Roach was always playing the guitar and singing and he inspired Ruby Hunter
to learn the guitar. She sang back up on his first album released in 1990. Then four years later
Ruby Hunter wrote and recorded in her own right - releasing her debut album Thoughts Within.

(Excerpt from song: Let My Children Be - Ruby Hunter)

She said it was one of the proudest moments in her life.

RUBY HUNTER (archival): I suppose when I did my first album Thoughts Within. So I asked one of my
brothers to name this album. He came back and said, "Well what do you think, brother?" He said,
"Oh, you know what, sister? I never knew you had those thoughts within".

JENNIFER MACEY: But her life was plagued by difficulties which inspired much of her music. She sang
about domestic violence, about Indigenous and women's issues and about drug and alcohol abuse.

RUBY HUNTER (archival): I gave up drinking when the boys, Amos and Eban was only young. I had to
say to myself, I know alcohol is a part of other people's culture but it's not a part of my

JENNIFER MACEY: Rhoda Roberts is the founder of the Dreaming music festival and one of the
producers of the annual Deadly awards which recognises Aboriginal achievements.

RHODA ROBERTS: It's a great loss. It's a huge loss. But how blessed we were to have this woman who
showed us, for Aboriginal women, for a woman who was taken, has her own children and does
everything in her life to maintain that family is quite extraordinary.

You know I hate the world role model. She was a knowledge keeper. And so it's a wonderful thing,
it's a very cultural thing in a way to step aside and pass that knowledge on.

JENNIFER MACEY: Ruby Hunter's love of music took her into cinemas as well. In 2001 she appeared in
Rachel Perkins' film One Night the Moon with Paul Kelly. But it was music that defined her.
Throughout her career Ruby Hunter was nominated for two ARIA awards and performed with
international artists including Tracy Chapman and Bob Dylan.

In the past few months she's been touring with the Black Arm Band and she'd just signed up to
perform a series of children's songs at the next Dreaming festival.

But it's her lifelong collaboration with her partner Archie Roach for which she will be remembered
most. Their voices complemented each other.

(Archie Roach singing)

ARCHIE ROACH (archival): From the first time I met her right up 'til now, you know, her generosity,
her spirit has always been what I admire most and I suppose what's kept me.

RUBY HUNTER: Music's part of it, but I think the true loveness of what we have for each other, the
inner, inner love that we have for each other has kept us together.

JENNIFER MACEY: Ruby Hunter died at the age of 55. She leaves behind her husband Archie Roach and
her two sons Amos and Eban.

(Excerpt from song: I Am a Woman - Ruby Hunter)

ELEANOR HALL: Ruby Hunter with I Am a Woman and Jennifer Macey compiled that report.