Rapper Sukhdeep Singh, more broadly known as L-FRESH The LION, performed a silent solidarity protest set at this year's Australia Day concert in Parramatta.
After giving an acknowledgement to the traditional owners of Parramatta, the Burramatagal clan, Singh informed the crowd that rather than performing his expected set, he was planning to stage an act of solidarity instead and invited the crowd to join him in the spirit of what he was doing.
I've thought about this very deeply, but in staying true to myself as artist and as a human being, I could not bring myself to perform my usual set of songs for you today. Instead I'm going to do a different type of performance. I'm going to perform the act of listening and I invite each and every one of you to join me in this act
You see, we can call it whatever we want, but the 26th of January is considered a Day of Mourning for many Indigenous people. It is Invasion Day and Survival Day.
The vision of Australia Day is a nice one. It is a vision of Australia as a great, multicultural and inclusive nation. However, by celebrating it on the 26th of January, we are acting in direct conflict with that vision. Instead we are excluding and disrespecting the traditional owners of this land, who have, for longer than Australia Day has been a public holiday, been telling us that this is a day of mourning.
After performing part of his hit song '1 in 100,000', Singh played a number of protest songs from Aboriginal artists, including Archie Roach's 'Keep your handouts, give us back our land', Yothu Yindi's 'Treaty', A.B Original's 'January 26', and Birdz, ft Jimblah, 'Rise'.
NITV spoke to Singh about his motivation for this set, and the response from the crowd.
Many concert goers were appreciative of his actions, "Some of my fans were there and they understand what I am about and where I was coming from."
Not everyone was happy about his choice not to play more of his own music though, "Some people said they wanted to hear my music instead, but I explained that there was 'nothing that I could add or say that was more important than what you are listening to right now'."
"One fan in particular told me that he was upset I didn't play all of 1 in 100,000 but I explained that what I was trying to do with this act of solidarity was me being true to what that song is all about."
In the lyrics of 1 in 100,000 he raps, "Even if I'm 1 in 100,000 I'ma stay strong, Never backing down from anything that comes my way I'ma stand my ground, son. I give you my word, that's one you can count on."
Organisers of the event, including Parammatta Council, have been supportive of the message.
Listen to #ChangeTheDate a track written by some of Australia's best hip hop acts, including L-FRESH the LION