I am at the sacred edge festival in Queenscliff listening to Jessie Lloyd and friends sing Mission Songs - indigenous Australians' laments, lullabies, protest songs, songs of powerlessness, power and fluency.
At times the rhythms of the Pacific waft through the melodies, at other times old country and western influences, other times it's old hymnody and other times it's got the crooning of lullaby.
Hearing indigenous Australians sing songs that were sung by suffering families whose children had been stolen and hearing songs about racism and exclusion held together with easy melody is a discomforting art.
Hearing songs from people whose people's dreaming wraps country and millennia feels like a challenge to a contemporary political climate where questions about migration and inclusion are so live. These songs are woven by people who never left their land but whose land was denied them. The narrative of humanity's repeated tendency to wound is powerful in these stories and songs of pain, power and protest. The songs are of their time and the songs are timeless, speaking to the climate of refugee and asylum seeking, exile and displacement.
More information at www.missionsongsproject.com