Joe Geia could empathise when Anthony Mundine called for all players to boycott the national anthem at both the NRL and AFL Grand Finals last weekend.
“I can understand this as I have always thought that we are not recognised in the current anthem,” the singer told NITV.
“It is time for a change. Our national anthem should reflect our present situation in this great land.”
“The current Anthem states that we are “young and free”. But we are not young. We are at least 40,000 years old. Combining the two songs will give understanding and knowledge of our history and understanding.”
The singer/songwriter and didgeridoo player who came to prominence as a member of the bands No Fixed Address and The Black Arm Band is working on a project called ‘Anthem Combined’ with music professors from Queensland University of Technology.
The song will be a blend between the second verse of 'Advance Australia Fair' and 'Yil Lull', his most well-known song which means ‘sing’ in Kuku Yalanji.
"I've heard people talk about how that first verse leaves out Aboriginal people... I see that the second verse is about both mob: 'for those who've come across the seas'."
“By combining the two songs it sends a strong message that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have much to share with our multicultural society" he told NITV.
“Music is a universal language and can heal the misinformation and prejudices that exist."
'Yil Lull' was first released in 1988 and is often sung as an unofficial Aboriginal anthem, being performed at the Long Walk and numerous AFL Indigenous rounds since 2006 when it was performed by Peter Garrett, Paul Kelly, Judith Durham and Renee Geyer.
Mr Geia was inspired by the New Zealand national anthem, which is sung in both English and Maori at major sporting events. However, he hopes that instead of singing the anthems alongside each other, the 'Anthem Combined' song might be sung instead of the national anthem.
Mr Geia hopes that his anthem will be sung for Grand finals and Survival Day" as well as at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018. "We want to work towards it... the athletes can walk out on parade with a land rights t-shirt," he said after highlighting the negative responses the Olympics Committee has had towards Cathy Freeman and Damien Hooper's use of the Aboriginal flag at previous Games.
Mr Geia explained that the song has gained traction in the community. “It has begun to get grassroots support and is now sung at a primary school in Ballarat each week where it was launched a couple of years ago to much acclaim. I have many requests from teachers asking if they too can teach the children.”
He explains that his motivation in song writing is to share Indigenous culture and language.
“I want to promote change and understanding, melodically and harmoniously,” he says, “while still sharing the little known aspects of Aboriginal history.”
The ultimate goal is to work with an orchestra to produce a final version of 'Anthem Combined' which he hopes to release this time next year, in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games.
In addition to the anthem, Geia has been working on songs for a new CD 'North, South, East & West' that he hopes to release late this year and perform at the Woodford Folk Festival.