Mental health message is music to your ears

B-Town Warriors are music to your ears


B-Town Warriors performers in the video clip for People of the Red Sunset.

B-Town Warriors performers in the video clip for People of the Red Sunset.

Aa

The tune is so catchy it sticks in your mind for days.

Aa

THE tune is so catchy it sticks in your mind for days.

The video is a visual feast.

However, the words have ominous undertones that make the listener realise all is not rosy for children in the outback town of Bourke.

Lyrics like:

“I tell you it’s hard/that violence leaving scars

Leavin’ bruises, broken families, broken homes and broken hearts

Smoking dope and getting drunk, skippin’ school and stealin’ cars

That type of yarn will get you nowhere but behind bars.”

Fortunately, the hip hop song People of the Red Sunset by the B-Town Warriors is an uplifting story of empowerment and the need for positive mental health messages.

“Better learn about myself – help my family’s mental health

Better check if you alright, better make sure that you sleep at night

Better keep that dream alive, exercise and eatin’ right

Now’s the time to show our pride and take this yarn Australia-wide.”

The B-Town Warriors, a group of Aboriginal children from Bourke High School, has been a hit on the airwaves after collaborating on a music project with Desert Pea Media, a company that works with children in regional and remote areas.

View the video of People of the Red Sunset

The resulting song and video was so successful it featured on Triple J’s Unearthed, then was played on rotation every day on the station, appeared on ABC’s Rage, and has been an internet sensation. It has 1000 likes on YouTube from as far as Portugal, the US, and Papua New Guinea, has been viewed almost 120,000 times, and has 8000 Facebook likes. It has also been used as a teaching aid in classrooms.

“People of the Red Sunset gives us something to be proud of,” said B-Town Warriors member and Bourke High School student Lorraine.

“It’s about the identity of the town and the people.”

DPM co-founder and creative director Toby Finlayson said the company had a strong focus on creative engagement and outcomes through contemporary storytelling techniques, fostering important social and cultural dialogue.

“The Desert Pea Media projects involve a dialogue-based storytelling process that encouraged participants to analyse 'the real', 'the ideal' and 'the bridge',” he said.

“In simple terms this means critically thinking about how to create positive change for individuals, for each other and for our communities.”

The information was then disseminated into a narrative structure by local young people and Toby and Michael Graham (aka MC Boomalli) from DPM, then the lyrics were co-written and recorded.

Graham (MC Boomalli), a Kamileroi man, was a previous DPM project participant who is now one of the head project facilitators for DPM and mentor to the children.

“Working with the young people of Bourke was one of the biggest weeks in 2016, an experience I’ll forever remember,” he said. “We were making history together.

“The end result left everybody stunned, not only within the community of Bourke, but the nation.

“To think that years ago I was one of those kids, lining up to take my turn recording and showing up to school just so I could get a go, to now facilitating these projects and help give back only goes to show the limitless potential of this work.”

The production was written, recorded and filmed around the town in just five days in April, 2016.

“The song is a celebration of survival, resilience, culture and pride and is one of our proudest achievements of 2016,” Toby said.

“This production has exceeded all of our expectations, and it’s truly an honour to be involved.

“Our work is about creating a better, more inclusive and respectful Australian popular culture.

“I’m so thrilled we are able to shine a light on the wonderful, creative talent that exists within the Bourke community.

“This project featured the expert musical direction and production of acclaimed musician and and songwriter Carlo Santone, from Blue King Brown, who has since worked with us on a number of projects,” he said.

Carlo said he was honoured to be part of the production.

“To see these works being supported by the wider community has an amazing effect on our collective societal mindset and culture,” he said.

Brisbane-based Indigenous Yidaki (Didgeridoo) musician Fred Leone, from Impossible Odds, provided a throbbing bass line.

DPM resident psychologist Don Finlayson supported the project, and Bourke High School and NSW Outback Division of General Practice co-funded the production.

“One of the greatest gifts we can bestow upon our community is to invest in, and believe in our children – the results speak for themselves,” said NSW Outback Division of General Practice executive manager Donna Jeffries.

But the story didn’t end there. In May this year, the B-Town Warriors and DPM produced a second music video, Dreams - “which represents a conversation about ambition, leadership, and hopefulness - young people exploring the issues in their community and exploring solutions and messages that uplift, inspire and empower First Nations people around Australia and the world,” Toby said.

The chorus goes like this:

“I know I can

I know I am

I know that I will be

Dream

I can Dream.”

In July they released a third music video, Thundercloud, which has featured on Channel 10’s The Project.

“It is a story of struggle, in a context where mental health is at crisis point for young Indigenous Australians, and the pressures of living in two worlds are bigger than ever,” he said.

“This is a brave and emotive production, driven by young people to inspire and support mobs to be resilient, healthy and feel supported. You are not alone.”

Two more collaborations are due in October, 2017, thanks to a partnership with the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.

Toby said the aim of Desert Pea Media was to short-circuit the structures of inequality through intergenerational expression of cultural and social issues, focusing on solutions and positive choices.

The company has produced 97 music videos and six documentaries for more than 50 community in 15 years.

The stars of those videos include the Wilcannia Mob, the Tin Town Trackers, the Walgett Warriors, Dub Vegas, the Colli Crew, the Condo Crew and the Wello Crew.

The lyrics to People of the Red Sunset

Straight out of Bourke where the Darling River’s deep

Where the Wonkamurra, Paakantji, Nyaampa, Murrawarri meet

Connected to my country, red dirt through my black feet

Can’t track me – no guns but the sun-packin’ heat.

I tell you it’s hard/that violence leaving scars

Leavin’ bruises, broken families, broken homes and broken hearts

Smoking dope and getting drunk, skippin’ school and stealin’ cars

That type of yarn will get you nowhere but behind bars.

I’m sick of this misery, my culture like a mystery

Massacre, stolen generation up in my history

Listen to this, with boomerang and clapsticks

You can hear it rockin’ from up Northy down to the Rizz.

Kids pickin’ up bumpers lah! Drinkin’, killin’ your liver brah

Better switch this up, better go to school,

Ya foolish think this cool or wha?

Better raise them voices up.  Better make better choices ya

Better respect, better keep in check, myself, my song, my culture HAH

CHORUS

We from a place where the warm wind blows,

My place, my home, my spirit

We the people of the red sunset

We connect like the flows in the river.

VERSE 2

Better learn about myself – help my family’s mental health

Better check if you alright, better make sure that you sleep at night

Better keep that dream alive, exercise and eatin’ right

Now’s the time to show our pride and take this yarn Australia-wide.

Change it back to what it meant to be I’ll take back my identity

I’ll maintain my integrity. I’m black in the 21st Century

Yep there’s still room for improvement, work with us to start a movement

Bourke about to change the game and break the chain through this here music.

If you fair dinkum prove it bred, you better shake your leg

If you for real sis, hands up if you feel this

If you on track, you better learn your lingo, bringin it back

Learn the facts, learn your language, yep be proud be black.

We livin’ black and white – get rid of that stereotype

Never give up, don’t quit, the truth is you can be anything you like

Yep you gotta grab that mic, gotta keep that fire alight

Gotta keep on dreaming, keep your chin up, keep on shining bright.”

Aa

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