The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir
The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir is a combined choir from Alice Springs, Ntaria, Areyonga, Titjikala, Mutitjulu and Docker River Communities.
The choir is led by Morris Stuart, a former pastor who was born in British Guyana in the Caribbean. He uses sacred music to help empower indigenous people, working with local choirs in Central Australia, Alice Springs and, most recently, with the famous South African Soweto Gospel Choir.
The choir have been singing in Alice Springs at the Desert Song Festival every year. In 2013 they visited Adelaide, toured with the Soweto Gospel choir from Africa in 2014, and in 2015 went to Germany, attending the Kirchentag Festival. The visit to Germany was about taking back history, stories and songs that came to Central Australian as German baroque hymns taught by German pastors. The songs were translated into Arrernte and Pitjantjatjara languages.
In 1877, German Lutheran missionaries set up a mission in Ntaria, 125km west of Alice Springs, which they called Hermannsburg. Here, with the help of Aboriginals, the missionaries drafted 53 hymns in three years in the local language, Western Arrernte, and then taught the locals to sing in this new genre.
Today, the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir spans five Aboriginal communities spread over 1000 km’s and they sing in six languages, including traditional Aboriginal languages, English, German and Zulu.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Ministry for the Arts’ Festivals Australia program.