Elder ~ Radical Son

From the Kamilaroi nation of Australia and the South Pacific nation of Tonga he is a strong man with a stronger stage presence and a mesmerising voice that at once seduces the soul and punches the heart.

Radical Son has recently shared his soul-shaking new single, Elder, offering a deeply powerful statement of devotion to country, his Kamilaroi and Tongan cultures and his iron-willed intention to endure that sets neck hairs on end. Elder comes paired with an equally commanding music video made in the Blue Mountains by Djugun/ Yawuru/ Gooniyandi director Cornel Ozies, and featuring rocker Vic Simms, Australian of the Year Shane Phillips, Forgiveness Project advocate Ray Minniecon, Kamilaroi elder Paul Spearim and more.

Radical Son is part of the long story. “I wish to be an elder, an old man on this land,” he sings in a voice so immense it seems to emanate from the rock beneath his feet.

Elder is the first taste of Biliyambil (The Learning), the highly anticipated second album by Radical Son, aka David Leha – which will also feature David Bridie, Emma Donovan and Jida Gulpilil, set for release on David Bridie’s Wantok label in September. Elder is the keynote to the album’s themes of hard-won survival, belonging and acquiring wisdom from life experience. It’s a song sung from mountaintops, loaded with a storied past and fully facing the future.

“The bones of the song were there then. The language section from Jida Gulpilil (son of David), that came later. It's quite simple. It's just saying, ‘Let's move, let’s dance and celebrate’.”

“Elder is a song I began three or four years ago when I was working on country in Moree and Armadale, New South Wales,” David says. “I was working on a program with emerging artists called Yanayai, which means ‘returning’. I was helping these artists to create a piece in a genre of their choice and the conditions were that they had to have three generations of their family help them, and they also needed to incorporate some language into that as well.

Thematically, the song rings in harmony with For Our Elders: the theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week (2-9 July). “The struggles of our Elders help to move us forward today,” the NAIDOC statement declares. “The equality we continue to fight for is found in their fight. Their tenacity and strength has carried the survival of our people.”

Alongside Dan Sultan, Emma Donovan, William Barton, Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO, Jess Hitchcock, Sally Dastey, Kee’ahn, Tamala Shelton and the Dhungala Children’s Choir, Radical Son recently galvanised Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Byron Bluesfest and Vivid Sydney with his huge, soulful voice and compelling presence, performing a stunning version of Walking Into Doors for a series of Uncle Archie Roach Tribute Concerts – One Song: The Music of Archie Roach, with a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra show still to follow at Hamer Hall on July 5 & 6.

Radical Son’s first album, Cause ‘N Affect, enjoyed high rotation on Australian national broadcast radio ABC Triple J and Double J and was nominated for both Best Music Video (Human Behaviour) and Best Cover Art (Cause ‘N Affect) at the National Indigenous Music Awards, for which they won the award for best cover art.