Aus Music Industry Legend Carolyn Laffan Passes Away

10 April 2024 | 6:20 pm | Liz Giuffre

"An incredible person who affected so many people’s lives and made the world a more magical, interesting place."

Carolyn Laffan

Carolyn Laffan (Supplied)

One of the biggest champions of Australian music and its history, Carolyn Laffan, has passed away.

A senior curator at the Australian Music Vault in Melbourne, she was responsible for gathering, organising and, in some cases, literally saving priceless pieces of Australian music history.

Her contribution was quiet but hugely powerful, supporting artists by ensuring pieces like song lyrics, instruments, costumes and awards were kept safe. In doing this she also supported the future of music, by making sure new generations knew the solid ground they stand on.

In an Instagram post this evening her family announced her passing, saying:

“It is with heavy hearts that we inform you of Caz’s passing yesterday. It’s hard to know what to say at times like this, but Caz’s personality and big heart spoke for themselves.

“She was an incredible partner and mother and more importantly an incredible person who affected so many people’s lives and made the world a more magical, interesting place.

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“In time I’m sure we’ll have more to say, as we collect ourselves and our thoughts, but for now all we can say is we loved her enormously as we’re sure many of you did too and we will miss her greatly.”

While her name is not one that is widely known, anyone who has visited the archive and learned about our history will understand the richness of her legacy.

Beyond protecting artefacts, she also protected and built up people, especially women, First Nations artists and others whose voices might have otherwise be shouted over.

Many remember the true care she took with the work she did, understanding that when people were ready to donate their personal collections that this needed a tender understanding. She talked about cultivating ‘long and standing relationships’ with artists, their families and their audiences. 

Laffan started work at the Arts Centre Melbourne in 1990 on a work placement when she doing museum studies as a student, and her development of the collection, and role as Senior Curator at the Australian Music Vault, continued until recently.

May her work, and energy, continue.