Indigenizing a ‘canon’

The entry of ‘My Island Home’, ‘Baba Waiar’ and ‘Kulba Yaday’ into the repertoire of community choirs


  • Julie Rickwood Australian National University



Christine Anu, community choirs, national identity


The closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney opened with a performance by Christine Anu of ‘My Island Home’, bringing the song to a global stage. Anu also popularized two songs from the Torres Strait Islands, ‘Baba Waiar’ and ‘Kulba Yaday’. Like ‘My Island Home’, both songs are performed frequently by community choirs. The article examines the shifting contexts of ‘My Island Home’, ‘Baba Waiar’ and ‘Kulba Yaday’ from their origins through popular song and into community choirs. That each song was made popular by Anu is both illustrative of and unique in the contemporary indigenizing of the canon as a whole. It is argued that the flow of the songs is connected to the desire for community choirs to express and perform the evolving and converging processes of reconciliation and national identity.

Author Biography

Julie Rickwood, Australian National University

Julie Rickwood is a music and performance researcher and practitioner based in Canberra, Australia. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University. Her research has concentrated on popular and community music. In 1997, Julie completed a master’s thesis on the intersection of gender, identity and singing within the Australian a cappella scene. Her recent doctoral research project, ‘We are Australian: An Ethnographic Investigation of the Convergence of Community Music and Reconciliation’, focused on a study of three cross-cultural choral interactions in Australia.


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How to Cite

Rickwood, J. (2015). Indigenizing a ‘canon’: The entry of ‘My Island Home’, ‘Baba Waiar’ and ‘Kulba Yaday’ into the repertoire of community choirs. Perfect Beat, 15(1), 45–65.