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About The Book

The ultimate illustrated commemoration of iconic Australian musicians Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter in songs, stories, photographs and tributes.

Longlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2024

Since he left us, Archie Roach’s legacy has continued to soar, like his totem animal from his mother’s ancestral lands, the wedge-tailed eagle. Archie’s songs stand as anthems for both the experience of dispossession and our shared humanity.

Songs from the Kitchen Table is a tribute to the power of Archie’s voice, and to the love of music he shared with his life partner and musical collaborator, Ruby Hunter. This beautiful, illustrated volume contains the lyrics to over one hundred of their songs, carefully curated by Archie’s manager and friend, Jill Shelton.

From Archie’s breathtaking early works, ‘Took the Children Away’ and ‘Charcoal Lane’, to the timeless classics ‘Tell Me Why’, Ruby’s ‘Down City Streets’, and Archie’s final masterpiece, ‘One Song’, the lyrics are accompanied by stories about their composition, rare photographs, original artwork, and heartfelt tributes to Archie and Ruby from those who knew and loved them.

With forewords by their long-time friends and musical collaborators, Emma Donovan, Paul Kelly and Jack Latimore, Songs from the Kitchen Table is a celebration of one of Australia’s great creative partnerships, and a testament to the ongoing power of plain-spoken truths.

About The Authors

Photograph © Adrian Cook Photography

Archie Roach AO, a Gunditjmara and Bundjalung man, was born in Victoria in 1956. Taken at the age of two from parents he never saw again, he was placed into foster care. He started writing songs after meeting his soulmate Ruby Hunter when they were both homeless teenagers. His heartbreaking signature song, ‘Took the Children Away’, from his 1990 ARIA award-winning debut album Charcoal Lane, has become an anthem for the Stolen Generations. The song was the first to win an Australian Human Rights Award and the album was featured in US Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 50 in 1992, won two ARIA awards and went gold in Australia. Archie’s recording history includes twelve albums, soundtracks, film and theatrical scores and his books include the award-winning memoir Tell Me Why, accompanied by a companion album, and the picture book Took the Children Away, illustrated by Ruby Hunter.

Photograph by James Penlidis.

Ruby Hunter (1955-2010) was a proud Ngarrindjeri, Kukatha, Pitjantjatjara woman from South Australia. She forged a remarkable music career, releasing three highly acclaimed albums, while raising a family with her lifelong partner and soulmate, Archie Roach. Through her songwriting Ruby tirelessly championed the rights of Aboriginal women and children out of a deep desire for positive change and equal opportunity. Like Archie, Ruby was forcibly removed from her family when only a small child. Ruby expressed their shared story through her evocative drawings for Took the Children Away, their last collaborative project.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia (November 15, 2023)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781761422201

Raves and Reviews

'When Jill Shelton was discussing the songbook idea with Archie, who died last year, he had just one request: “Make it good, Jill.” She didn’t let him down. Both celebration and tribute, the book is filled with more than 100 songs to soothe the soul. Songs of grace, healing and power.'

Jeff Jenkins

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images