was born in Cunnamulla, grew up in outback Queensland and Acacia Ridge, and has lived in Redfern for decades.However her country is Kuku Yalanji in the Cape York Peninsula.
Her mother was a Woppaburra woman from Great Keppel Island, her father, Darcy Cummins, was a Guguyelandji musician. He travelled internationally and established links with Native Americans.
As a teenager she was in a relationship with the Australian Black Panther Party leader Denis Walker. Cummins performed a traditional Murri dance at Thomas Hickey's memorial service.
She is the focus of Rachel Perkins' documentary, Black Panther Woman, which premiered at the 2014 Sydney Film Festival, Cummins is considered Australia's foremost indigenous blues performer, and is influenced by Big Mama Thornton, Etta James and Ray Charles. She honed her skills at the Berklee College of Music. Her band includes Murray Cook and Rex Goh .
She showcases her vast knowledge of blues and roots music on Koori Radio, where she hosts Marloo's Blues, providing music and discussions from an indigenous perspective. This show won her the Broadcaster of the Year award at the 2009 Deadly Awards.
Cummins wrote a song about Pemulwuy as a way of giving back to the Redfern community who see him as a hero. After dancing for Prince William, she gave him a copy of the song and explained the significance of the story to him, along with a petition to bring Pemulwuy's head back to his people.
She provided music for a Griffin Theatre Company production Shark Island Stories based on the work of Sally Morgan.
Her first full-length album, Koori Woman Blues, is a mixture of original and traditional blues songs and includes guests Gil Askey, Fiona Boyes, Mark Atkins and Shannon Barnett.
She is working on a musical stage show using her songs called Boomerang Alley.
Follow Marlene on her website here...
Ted Egan AO is a writer, singer and former Administrator of the Northern Territory (2003 to 2007) and he is uniquely qualified to write this book. He has lived in the Northern Territory since 1950 and has worked for the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs under both Liberal and Labor governments. He was a member of the first National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
In the 1940s, when Australian Country Music was born, it was affectionately, and nationally, called Queensland Opera. This was not in any way disparaging, but Queensland was felt to contain the best features of Australian country life and things were held to be bigger, and better in Queensland than anything Texas (USA) could offer.
In world terms, we reckoned we were able to match anything that emanated from America. We were happy to adopt their musical styles, as long as we could add our own flavour and colour to the music. So, although our pioneers adopted Amercian names like Slim, Buddy, Tex and Smokey, they quickly showed that they had something uniquely Australian to offer: Queensland Opera.
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