Australian Indigenous Singer Deborah Cheetham Turns Down Offer to Sing National Anthem


Cheetham Wanted to Change Lyrics Drastically to Reflect Respect for Earth and Diversity

OCT 20, 2015 – The Australian news outlet Adelaide Now is reporting that a well-known aboriginal Australian opera singer turned down an offer to sing Australian’s national anthem “Advance Australia Fair” at the big AFL Grand Final sports event, for Cheetham being both an aborigine and a lesbian has faced racism and discrimination throughout her life and she felt the words of the anthem, especially the line “for we are young and free”, rang empty and hollow. The opera singer wanted to change that line to “in peace and harmony”, along with drastically changing many of the other lines in the anthem, so it was a no-starter. The event’s organizers declined to let her sing the anthem with her alternate lyrics, so she declined to sing at the event which was a hard decision for her because she would have gotten massive exposure but she told Adelaide Now, “You have to know when to make a noise and when to be silent.” Some of the “new” lines she wanted to sing reflect respect for the land and it’s resources, and diversity:

Our precious water, soil and sun, grant life for you and me
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts to love, respect and share

Combine our ancient history and cultures everywhere
To bond together for all time, advance Australia fair

To read more of Cheetham’s “new” lyrics and to read more about it, check out Adelaide Now:

(photo credit Linda Britten:

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