In 1982, Shane Howard's massive anthem "Solid Rock" from the album "Spirit of Place", (recorded with his legendary band "Goanna"), reverberated across the airwaves and still does today.
It was one of the first songs of its idiom to broach the subject of Aboriginal rights in Australia and impacted powerfully on a whole new generation of writers and musicians that followed. The album was released in 35 territories, worldwide. It was produced by the late Trevor Lucas, (Fairport Convention).
Goanna's second album, 'Oceania', In 1985, was produced by Little Feat's Billy Payne and recorded in Australia and the US by John French & George Massenburg.
In 1993, Shane made his first tour of Ireland when Irish star Mary Black's recording of Shane's song, "Flesh & Blood", was a Top 5 hit there. He has since toured Ireland and Australia regularly with Black, who has since recorded several of his songs. His songs have also been recorded by Australia's John Farnham, Troy Cassar-Daley and Denmark's Lene Siel, among others.
He has spent many years working, writing, performing, touring with and producing Australian musicians, many of them Aboriginal artists, as well as journeying frequently to his own ancestral homelands in Ireland. He has helped strengthen Irish-Australian connections, through his musical friendships with Mary Black, Liam O'Maonlai, (Hothouse Flowers) and Stephen Cooney amongst others.
He has been outspoken on environmental issues since the song 'Let The Franklin Flow', written in 1983, protesting the building of a dam on the Franklin River in Tasmania's wild south-west.
In 1998 Shane renewed Goanna
for a new album and a series of concerts as part of the Melbourne Festival
of the Arts. These events were a showcase of the songlines that Shane
and friends had travelled over the past decade and a half.
He was an Australian representative at the 2001 North American Folk Alliance convention in Vancouver. In 2002 he toured the U.S. with Mary Black and Holland and Belgium in 2003. In that same year he worked on the digital re-mastering of Goanna's seminal 'Spirit of Place'.
In May 2004 he released RETROSPECT,
a compilation of collected recordings from 1982-2003, on his independent
label, GOANNA ARTS. The double CD collection brought together songs from
Goanna classics through the vast body of solo works.His eighth solo album,
'ANOTHER COUNTRY'was released in August 2004. At the Woodford Festival,
2005 'The Australian' newspaper described Howard's performance as, 'one
of the most powerful'.
He was also named Artist of the Year for the 2005 Port Fairy Folk Festival where he teamed up with his sister Marcia and Troy Cassar Daley for stunning versions of the old GOANNA songs, RAZOR'S EDGE and SOLID ROCK.
In announcing the award, Port Fairy Folk Festival Director, Jamie McKew said, "Shane Howard bridges the land between poet and song-writer; between prophet and singer; even between white fellas and indigenous artists".
In May 2005 he joined long time friend and champion of his songs, Mary Black, for her Australian tour. At the end of the tour Mary made the journey to Howard's South West Victorian studio, The Shed, where she recorded tracks for her new album, 'Full Tide'.
In June he was a special guest of Kasey Chambers for her top end shows in Darwin and Broome. He joined Kasey again, in November for a series of "A Day On The Green" shows. Also in 2005, Howard was invited by an old comrade, John Schumann, (Redgum), along with a team of Australian musical icons, to contribute to the Lawson album that John was recording, under the watchful production of Shane's friend and mentor, Kerryn Tolhurst.
A prolific songwriter,
he and his songs continue to champion the cause of the underdog, provide
meaningful insights into the human spirit and interpret the Australian
landscape in a way that has helped to build a bridge between Aboriginal
and non Aboriginal peoples.
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