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First Nations Prisoners Release Bilingual Cover Of Paul Kelly's 'How To Make Gravy'

21 December 2022 | 3:07 pm | Emma Whines

The best Gravy Day gift we could have hoped for.

(Image credit: WA Gov. )

A group of First Nations prisoners in the Goldfields of Western Australia have covered Paul Kelly's How To Make Gravy as part of a re-education and rehabilitation program, reports ABC

The Paul Kelly classic has been a beloved Christmas favourite for many Australians, with the original release date (the 21st of December) now known as Gravy Day. 

The tale behind the song (of a white man lamenting a Christmas away from his family) was said to resonate with a lot of First Nations prisoners who will not be at home for Christmas this year. 

Inspired, the prisoners worked with musician and ABC presenter Chris Edmonson for four days creating the bi-lingual cover. 

They translated the song into the western desert language of the Pitjantjatjara people, which references a vast area of the central and western interior of Australia and is representative of many of the dialects spoken in the lands surrounding the eastern Goldfields.  

The 'Gravy Day' opportunity is an attempt by Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison to bring more inmates into the Education Centre. 

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Cassie Tasker, EGRP Education Campus manager, spoke to the ABC on the 'Gravy Project', noting that arts always help motivate prisoners to visit the Education Centre.  

"From there we can always pick up other areas they are interested in and say, 'Hey, we noticed your reading and writing is not very strong. Why don't you come to one of our literacy classes?'"

Edmonson spent four days working with the prisoners in a small studio out the back of the prison. Speaking with the ABC, he noted how "naturally excellent and gifted" the inmates were. 

"If one person can play the guitar better than another person, then they'll just hand them the guitar and go and pick up the bass or another instrument," he said.

While hundreds of Aussie artists have attempted to cover the iconic song over the years, none have ever quite matched the depth, beauty and true Australian nature of this cover. 

You can listen to the cover below. Please note that the modified lyrics were not included in the recording to protect the victims' families.