Published in Billboard Magazine
Australian release “The Key of Sea” teams refugees with stars from the country’s music scene. Released Nov. 12 through MGM Distribution, the album of original recordings pairs Sarah Blasko, You Am I frontman Tim Rogers and the Cat Empire with refugee and immigrant musicians.
“Immigration had become a hot topic, there had been racist attacks on Indians, and there was bad juju going around,” says Nick O’Byrne, GM of the Australian Assn. of Independent Music, who founded the project with civil rights advocate Hugh Crosthwaite. “We thought the best way to start turning things around was to get a message out in a nonthreatening way: through music.”
“We were really drawn to the campaign,” says Harry James Angus, vocalist with the Cat Empire, which recorded “Zero” with Ethiopia-born artist Anbessa Gebrehiwot.
The Cat Empire joined a handful of participants onstage for a Nov. 11 concert at Melbourne’s 800-capacity Prince of Wales venue. The show sold out, generating $28,000 Australian ($27,300). All proceeds go to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Human Rights Arts and Film Festival and Refugees Survivors and Ex-Detainees.
There are plans to revisit the project with live shows next year and possibly more album releases.