"It's quite simple. It's just saying, ‘Let's move, let’s dance and celebrate’.”
On Friday, Radical Son (real name David Leha) unveiled his latest song, Elder, a deeply powerful statement of devotion to country and his Kamilaroi and Tongan cultures.
An intense song with an equally commanding music video, Leha sounds otherworldly when he sings, “I wish to be an elder, an old man on this land.”
The first single from Biliyambil (The Learning), Leha’s highly anticipated second album, will also feature David Bridie, Emma Donovan and Jida Gulpilil. Elder arrived just a week out from this year’s Australian National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee Week (NAIDOC Week), which honours the theme, For Our Elders and commences from 2 July until 9 July.
“I have written a song that calls for our Mob to once again plant the seeds of roles and responsibilities back into the minds of us all,” Leha tells The Music.
“While we all find our way through life and are deciding who we choose to be and how we want to be, may we place thoughts about what it takes to be an Elder. May our young want to grow to be Elders of this land.”
Biliyambil (The Learning) will be released this September on Bridie’s record label, Wantok. Leha wants you, the listener, to know that “What I'm saying comes from my heart and from this place,” he shares. “Feel what I give. Hear the integrity in the lyrics.”
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On improving opportunities for those like Leha who dream of becoming an Elder in their cultures, Leha believes “the solution requires that things are said that might be hard to hear.” He explains, “A good place to start would be from the heart. Start with accountability, responsibility, and love.”
You can watch the stirring music video below.
“Elder is a song I began three or four years ago when I was working on country in Moree and Armadale, New South Wales,” Leha commented in a press release. “I was working on a program with emerging artists called Yanayai, which means ‘returning’.
"I was helping these artists to create a piece in a genre of their choice, and the conditions were that they had to have three generations of their family help them, and they also needed to incorporate some language into that as well.
“The bones of the song were there then. The language section from Jida Gulpilil (son of David) came later. It's quite simple. It's just saying, ‘Let's move, let’s dance and celebrate’.”
Leha recently joined Dan Sultan, Emma Donovan, William Barton, Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO, Jess Hitchcock, Sally Dastey, Kee’ahn, Tamala Shelton and the Dhungala Children’s Choir for a series of Uncle Archie Roach Tribute Concerts entitled One Song: The Music of Archie Roach; Leha covered Walking Into Doors.
If you missed the performances at Vivid LIVE, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, and more, don’t fret: the concert series will wrap up with a pair of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra shows at Hamer Hall on Wednesday, 5 and Thursday, 6 July. You can find your tickets here.