“Margaret Kitamura, a part Japanese folk singer grew up on a cattle station so remote that her early musical experiences were confined to listening to the family’s antique gramophone and selection of Melba and Gilbert & Sullivan 78s, or picking up occasional songs from the station-hands.
She was well into her teens before she first heard the radio or popular music. Kitamura started singing to student audiences at El Toro in Sydney in the early 60s before moving north, where she was a regular at the Brisbane Folk Centre … She supported American folk trio The New Lost City Ramblers when they toured Australia in 1965.
Dale Dengate describes her voice as being “‘clear, sharp to mellow and haunting, and it certainly moved many with her rendition.” According to the late Stan Arthur, she lost her voice in later years, left Australia, and found work with a drive-in church in the United States.”“History of Australian Music” blog.
Listen to Songs By Margaret Kitamura
A Poem by Ian Hills©Ian Hills 1963
Sung by Margaret Kitamura with the Union Singers
It was late one Friday afternoon
The prison boat came silently down
Stayed a little out of town
The purpose they would learn too soon.
They came upon them after dark
Pack your bags the orders rang
We’ll take your leaders child and man
And not a dog had time to bark.
Two policemen lay at head and toe
The reason why no one could tell
Before the dawn they knew quite well
And women and children were next to go.
Their houses burnt or taken down
To the government like a cattle herd
Songs and tears within them stirred
With a last look at their former town.
They protest with fear and woe
Have we no rights no race no land?
We are people you understand
Have we no say in where we go?
Union Songs Website
This song was sung by Margaret Kitamura on the 10 LP ‘The Ballad of Women’ released by Union Records in Brisbane (U.S.1. Australia September 1964)
The cover notes on the album read:
“Whose Hand? came to us anonymously from Cairns with a note that said: “Please show this to your friends that all may know and understand, and that all may help us to prevent yet another terrible crime against innocent people who are too far away from prompt help. The Lockhardt community is the next place threatened …” The poem, which deals with the burning of the Aboriginal settlement at Mapoon, we subsequently discovered was written by a young Queensland student Ian Hills. It has been set to music and most movingly sung by Margaret Kitamura supported by Mike Murphy on bass.” When contacted later, Ian Hills commented that his handwriting was misread and the song was originally entitled Whose Land. Phyl Lobl’s comment: “The official explanation was that the leaders were having undue influence on the rest of the community. A typical reaction to Aboriginal claims to ownership of traditional land and freedom of settlement.”.
This 23/11/2021 Article in ABC News documents an act of late and partial restitution, two generations on.
Historic ruling hands massive tract of Cape York land back to traditional owners