St Peters students were privileged to have writer/composer of For Love of Country, Ms Vonda Last, perform and present the story behind her works at last week’s whole-school-meeting.
Ms Last’s song, that moved so many of the St Peters community at our Grandparents’ and Special Friends Day performances, was written and first performed in 2013 at the unveiling of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial (located outside the Torrens Parade Ground in Adelaide). It was inspired by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who served their country, and in many cases sacrificed their lives, in a time when they weren’t even recognised by the Federal Government as citizens of Australia.
“The song came about after a conversation with two inspiring Adelaide Aboriginal women Shirley Peasley and Marj Tripp. Marj was the the first Aboriginal woman to join the Royal Australian Navy”, Ms Last said. “They were discussing the plans being developed for the Indigenous War Memorial. I went home and sat at my piano and the words just flowed. It was a song that needed to be written.”
Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have fought for Australia since the Boer War. “Do you know that many of them (the Indigenous soldiers) never returned? We don’t know what happened to them, but it is mind boggling to think that there could be Aboriginal ancestors and family that we don’t even know about!” Ms Last continued.
She went on to share several other songs that tell stories and share memories of her extended family, including a beautiful song about ‘Grandma Owen’, whose sons went to Gallipoli, and River People – a song about a fishing family from the River Murray. Ms Last’s songs conveyed a wonderful warmth and she held the students spellbound with her beautiful voice, lyrics and storytelling.
Then it was the St Peters kids’ turn to perform. They sang For Love of Country to Ms Last who commented how beautifully and heartily they sang. “It was so lovely to hear it performed for me!” she said, adding “It means a lot that they understand the sacrifices that indigenous Australians made during war, and how they fought side-by-side with members of their own families.”
The St Peters community is grateful to Ms Last for taking the time to share her story, inspiration and her talent with us. Ms Last’s CD single For Love of Country can be purchased from the Australian War Memorial Online shop here https://www.awm.gov.au/shop/item/CDFORLOVE/
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