LOCAL Indigenous entertainer Phil Walleystack has described how a moment of racism in his hometown inspired his biggest song, Walk With Me.
The song has become an anthem, a rallying call for Indigenous pride couched in the shape of a gloriously catchy pop song.
Late last month Yarloop-born, Gosnells-raised Walleystack performed the tune in front of 35,000 people, at half time in the West Coast Eagles’ win over the Gold Coast.
But while the song’s refrain is wonderfully upbeat, it has a disturbing origin.
“We did a major show here in Perth and after the show we went out to celebrate,” Walleystack said.
“I got refused entry. I questioned the bouncer, asked him why and he said ‘there’s too many of you in here’.
“I said ‘what do you mean by that?’ He said ‘you know what I mean’.
“I bit my tongue and walked away and on the way home I started singing that tune in my head.”
‘You know a change has to come’, Walleystack sings on Walk With Me, and it’s part of the reason his show at the Astor Theatre on July 7 for NAIDOC Week is so important.
The show is the only Indigenous concert taking place in Perth throughout the week, which runs from July 3-10 and celebrates the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
It features artists such as Richard Walley, Stephen Pigram, Bradley Hall and The Merindas, bringing together traditional song and dance from all over Western Australia and pairing it with contemporary music.
Walleystack said the gig would be a great chance to bring cultures together and foster a greater connection between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
“I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding, and it goes both ways,” he said.
“We need to understand each other a bit more, about each others’ culture; it’s a two-way street.
“Entertainment is the best way to educate people.
“The whole sense of Walk With Me is taking people on a journey.
“Our music is about our way of living and our lifestyle. It’s an insight into how Aboriginal people think and feel.”
Walleystack is putting the finishing touches on a second album, working with acclaimed producer Malcolm Luker on a follow-up to 2012’s Strong.
The album is set to be released later this year.
What: Phil Walleystack Walk With Me
Where: Astor Theatre
When: Thursday July 7 at 8pm