Singer Auriel Andrew, who starred in the recent Buried Country series of concerts, passed away on january 2 at the age of 69.
Andrew died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends in hospital in Newcastle. She is survived by her husband Barry Francis, her children Sarina and Reuben, 13 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and her sister Ronda.
“Auriel had had some health problems for a while but, typical of her, she brushed them aside in order to be part of the the first few Buried Country shows late last year,” wrote Clinton Walker, author of Buried Country, in an obituary.
“She is survived also by her legacy: by the wonderful music she made all through her life, and the courage and dedication it took to make that music starting at a time in the late 1960s when Aboriginal people were barely seen or heard in broader Australia; she will be remembered and celebrated for that, by the great number of people who were touched by her and her music, and she will be remembered for her selfless generosity and the inspiration that that provided too; and she will never be forgotten for her cheeky sense of humour that even as I sadly squeeze out these words, can still bring a smile to my face!
“Auriel was an Arrernte woman, born the youngest of seven children in Darwin in 1947. She grew up in Alice Springs and it was as if ordained that she would go into showbusiness. As a singer, she had all the inveterate assets – and gags! – of a classic old vaudeville hoofer, and knowing her as I was privileged to do, she would be chuffed at that tag.
“Auriel Andrew did everything and more that an Aboriginal artist could do in the 70s and 80s, and I’ve put that that way because the opportunities she was presented with were lesser than those any even lesser white artist would have enjoyed at that time. In Adelaide in the early 70s, she became a regular on national TV, on Reg Lindsay’s Country Hour – she was, it has to be said, a babe! (as the clips on YouTube show) – and in 1971 she released her first album, Just for You. It was only the second album made by an indigenous woman in Australia.”