Vi Lewin

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following page contains the image, name and voice of a person who has died.  Every effort has been made to contact the relatives, descendants and publisher of this songwriter’s work without success.

In 1989 Vi Lewin sent me this song about her home country, Yandeyarra, in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia. The following information comes from her autobiography. “I was born Violet Agnes Anderson. I am a descendent of the Nghignah tribe”. Vi had a rural early childhood on a station. “We never starved. Dad always took enough meat off the kangaroos”. There was hymn singing with Church of Christ missionaries.

After completing her schooling in Perth, fostered by a missionary couple, she married a forestry worker. Three children were born and the family moved to Collie. Vi became active as.a fundraiser and entertainer and her children formed a band called “White City”.

Many thanks to Mark Cain, musician, journalist and Vi’s workmate for details of Vi’s early radio and performance history on public radio station 6NR.. He describes her style as softly spoken: “listeners felt she was sitting in your lounge room and talking just to you”.

Vi has been described as “the founder of Aboriginal Radio in Western Australia”. She lived in Collie and travelled to her broadcasting job in Perth. In 1979 she recorded Tall Trees as a single, followed by a collection of fifteen original songs on cassette. Yandeyarra is the second track on the Tall Trees collection. Later in life she enrolled in the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music in Adelaide, studied and worked in Cairns, and met her husband Gerry Lewin, a fellow musician, on Thursday Island. She eventually moved back to Western Australia (Excerpts from DoolgooAn Autobiography of Vi Lewin, singer-songwriter of the West 1989) published by Cheryl Buchanan. ISBN 0 7316 7132 5.

Vi Lewin australian songwriter

Listen to Songs By Vi Lewin

Yandeyarra

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Song Lyrics

1. On Yandeyarra Station where the skies are very blue
That’s the place where I would always ever want to be
Those sandy creeks and rocky rivers have a strange power on me
And purple ranges, well they keep calling to me.

Oh, Yandeyarra, oh-oh; Oh Yandeyarra oh-oh, oh
I hear the whispers calling, just as night is softly falling
There’s magic in the beauty of this hard rugged country
Though I may travel far from my home
From here my heart will never, ever roam.

2. Just at sunset, after tea time at the homestead house I sing
I hear the distant cattle calling as the sun sinks in the west;
Dark children playing, old people laughing,
Talking around the blazing campfire
On Yandeyarra, the place they love the best.

Oh, Yandeyarra, oh-oh; Oh Yandeyarra oh-oh, oh
I hear the whispers calling, just as night is softly falling
There’s magic in the beauty of this hard rugged country
Though I may travel far from my home
From here my heart will never, ever roam.

3. When the pink sunset’s fading and the night draws in near
Silvery stars, twinkling bright, the moon glorious appears
I catch the feeling of that dreamtime spirit from so long ago
And gentle voices, so strongly drawing me so.

Oh, Yandeyarra, oh-oh; Oh Yandeyarra oh-oh, oh
I hear the whispers calling, just as night is softly falling
There’s magic in the beauty of this hard rugged country
Though I may travel far from my home
From here my heart will never, ever roam.

Vi Lewin’s early childhood during the latter years of World War 2 coincided with an historic development in WA. Indigenous affairs, the Pilbara Strike. Vi made no direct connection in her autobiography to this context, however other songs in the index of her autobiography document her awareness of racial inequality.

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