One song's 130-year impact on Australian music
Turn Back Pharaoh’s Army, a song from the slave era, was performed in the 1880s by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, an African American university choir at the Aboriginal mission at Maloga, NSW. The song was eventually translated into the Yorta Yorta language and became Ngarra Burra Ferra. It was performed in the film and the soundtrack of The Sapphires.
According to Tony Briggs, the actor and playwright who wrote The Sapphires, it was his great-grandmother Nannie Theresa Clements who translated the English version of Turn Back Pharaoh’s Army into the Yorta Yorta language.
A song about deliverance and hope, it also had a political context.
Article on the influence of black American music on Australian Indigenous musicians: