Emma Donovan and The Putbacks took to the stage at the Melbourne Arts Centre on Friday evening to pay respect and celebrate the life and musical times of Aunty Ruby Hunter for a fitting tribute.
Aunty Ruby, a strong and proud Ngarrindjerri Kukatha and Pitjanjatjara woman who broke down barriers across the Australian music industry in 1994 by becoming the first Aboriginal woman to record and release a solo rock album, was honoured in songs lifted from Aunt’s debut album ‘Thoughts Within’.
Emma Donovan, a Gumbainggir woman who hails from the musical family that are The Donovan’s from NSW, kicked off the evening concert with a flawless introduction paying respect to Uncle Archie Roach and to the Hunter family; all the while Emma straight up admitted to feeling a little bit nervous standing before the audience for the job at hand.
The mood set for the night was bitter sweet as Emma’s strong, deep and soulful voice and the tight band performed tunes in a one-hour set at the Concert Hall. Emma charmed the crowd throughout the concert and had the entire audience in the palms of her beautiful blak hands as each song passed by all too quickly.
Between each song Donovan shared personal anecdotes of her time spent listening too Aunt’s songs as a young girl through to the yarn of deadly memories of the time Emma shared a stage with Aunty Ruby whilst touring with The Black Arm band.
Emma deep soulful voice smashed out tune after tune and Donovan often channeled Aunty Ruby and from the first song of the night to the last it was an emotional rollercoaster of a ride of Aunt’s rich musical life. Donovan’s voice is one that just keeps on giving and all evening Donovan’s vocals were on point and The Putbacks musical offerings remained tight with the band’s deep rocking sounds the perfect match to Emma’s golden, luscious and extraordinary voice, a powerful instrument itself.
Some of the songs played this evening included; Ngarrindjeri Woman, Let my Children Be, Kurongk Boy Kurongk Girl, Black Woman, A Change Gonna Come, Aunty Sissy and Women’s Business just to name a few! How lovely it was to hear all these timeless and classic songs from back in 1994 being played again and sung with such passion and obvious pleasure by Emma Donovan who paid the utmost respect for one woman whom truly has inspired us all.
Donovan ended the evening just as it started, by thanking Uncle Archie Roach and the beautiful Hunter family and Emma said proudly to the family “Thank you for letting us sing Aunty Ruby’s tunes and for letting let us share them again – Thankyou”.
A fabulous evening featuring beautiful yarns and songs by one strong blak woman on stage giving an absolute flawless performance of another amazing strong blak woman’s inspirational songs and really you just can’t get any better than that. Emma Donovan was the perfect choice to deliver with raw emotion this musical tribute honoring the amazing musical contributions given by Aunty Ruby Hunter.
Presented by the Arts Centre and YIRRAMBOI First Nations Arts Centre.