‘I wouldn’t change skins with anybody’ Dulcie Pitt/Georgia Lee, a pioneering Indigenous Australian jazz, blues and community singer
Keywords:Indigenous Australian music, Australian jazz and blues, Georgia Lee, Dulcie Pitt
This article explores the career and music of Indigenous Australian singer and musician Dulcie Pitt, also known as Georgia Lee, and how music, race and gender intersected in her career. She had a distinguished career as an internationally recognized jazz, blues and folk singer and versatile entertainer from the 1940s to the 1970s. She performed extensively in Australia and Britain at cabarets, dances, concerts, nightclubs and theatres, as well as participating in numerous radio and television broadcasts, and sound recordings. Although there are currently other Indigenous jazz and blues artists in Australia, Dulcie Pitt/Georgia Lee is unique because she was a pioneer at a time when Indigenous peoples in general were the objects of widespread, legislated race-based discrimination. She rose above them through hard work and talent to set an example for other Indigenous performers to follow.
Argus (Melbourne) (1951) ‘An Old Aussie can Teach us’. 20 July.
Art Gallery of New South Wales. Georgia Lee by Donald Friend. http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/8089/ (accessed 25 January 2015).
Australian Art Orchestra (2014) http://www.aao.com.au (accessed 25 January 2015).
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2010) The Awaye Program. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/awaye/introducing-miss-georgia-lee/3670634 (accessed 25 January 2015).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011) Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/3238.0.55.001 (accessed 25 January 2015).
Australian Human Rights Commission (2006) Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional References Committee Inquiry into Stolen Wages. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Sydney. https://www.humanrights.gov.au/inquiry-stolen-wages (accessed 25 January 2015).
Australian Productivity Commission (2014) Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2014. http://www.pc.gov.au/research/recurring/overcoming-indigenous-disadvantage/key-indicators-2014 (accessed 25 January 2015).
Baha’i News (1986) ‘Australia Peace Expo “Overwhelms” Atherton’. August.
Baker, Ainslie (1963) ‘Listen Here with Ainslie Baker: “Jazz”’. Australian Women’s Weekly. 27 March.
Barney, Katelyn (2006) ‘Women Singing Up Big: The Growth of Contemporary Music Recordings by Indigenous Australian Women Artists’. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1: 44–56.
Barwick, Linda (2000) ‘Music’. In The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, ed. Sylvia Kleinert and Margo Neale, 328–48. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Beat, The (Melbourne) (1949) ‘Georgia Lee at Claridges’. 25 October.
Beckett, J. (1990) Torres Strait Islanders: Custom and Colonialism. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
Big Show (1957) [Nat King Cole 3rd Australian Tour] Playbill.
Bisset, A. (1979) Black Roots, White Flowers: A History of Jazz in Australia. Sydney: Golden Press.
Breen, M., ed. (1989) Our Place, Our Music. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.
Browning, Daniel (2010) ‘Trailblazing Indigenous Singer Belatedly Crowned Queen of Jazz’. Age (Melbourne). 15 May.
Cairns Post (1942) ‘Trocadero Dance Palais’. 16 May.
——(1943) ‘A.C.F. [Australian Comforts Fund] Victory Show’. 4 October.
——(1944) ‘Round the Red Cross Clock’. 11 November.
Campbell, Genevieve, and Teresita Kilapayu Puruntatameri (2014) ‘When Performance Comes before Research: Reflecting on a Tiwi/Non-Tiwi Musical and Research Collaboration’. In Collaborative Ethnomusicology: New Approaches to Music Research between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians, ed. Katelyn Barney, 129–46. Melbourne: Lyrebird Press.
Canberra Times (1947a) ‘What People are Doing: Diggers’ Ball’. 19 November.
——(1947b) North Canberra R.S.L. Memorial Fund. Display Advertising. 16 December.
Celebrity Jazz Concert (ca. 1949) ‘First Appearance in Melbourne of Jamaican Blues Singer Georgia Lee [:] “Beauty in Sepia”’. Display Advertising.
Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs) (1948) ‘Georgia Lee’. 8 October.
Corn, Aaron (2010) ‘Land, Song, Constitution: Exploring Expressions of Ancestral Agency, Intercultural Diplomacy and Family Legacy in the Music of Yothu Yindi with Mandawuy Yunupingu’. Popular Music 29/1: 81–102. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0261143009990390
Costigan, Lyn, and Karl Neuenfeldt (2007) ‘“Doing the Torres Strait Hula”: The Adaptation and Perseverance of “Hula” in an Australian Performance Culture’. In Oceanic Encounters: Essays in Honor of Mervyn McLean, ed. Richard Moyle, 97–108. Auckland: Research in Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Auckland.
Curkpatrick, Samuel (2013) ‘Productive Ambiguity: Fleshing out the Bones in Yolngu Manikay “Song” Performance, and the Australian Art Orchestra’s “Crossing Roper Bar”’. Critical Studies in Improvisation 2. http://www.criticalimprov.com/article/view/2694/3265 (accessed 27 January 2015).
Doherty, Frank (1951) ‘Moomba Took us by Storm’. Argus (Melbourne). 30 June.
Donovan, V. (2002) The Reality of a Dark History: From Contact and Conflict to Cultural Recognition. Brisbane: Arts Queensland.
Dunbar-Hall, P., and C. Gibson (2004) Deadly Sounds, Deadly Places: Contemporary Aboriginal Music in Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
Dunn, Peter. http://www.ozatwar.com/usarmy/africanamerican.htm (accessed 27 January 2015).
Funerary Prayer Service Booklet: Ramer Lyra ‘Dulcie’ Pitt (2010) St. John’s Anglican Church, Cairns, Queensland. Father John Simmons officiating. 29 April.
Ganter, R. (2006) Mixed Relations. Crawley, Western Australia: University of Western Australia Press.
Goddard, Anthea (1949) ‘Meet Georgia Lee’. WOMAN. 11 April.
Hodes, Jeremy (1998) Torres Strait Islander Migration to Cairns before World War II. Master’s of Literature. Rockhampton: Central Queensland University.
——(2000) ‘Anomaly in Torres Strait: Living “under the Act” and the Attraction of the Mainland’. Journal of Australian Studies 64: 166–72. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14443050009387568
Jillett, Neil (ca. 1976). ‘The Wiz of the Wicked West’ (n.s.).
Johnson, Bruce (1987) The Oxford Companion to Australian Jazz. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
——(2008) ‘Australian Jazz: An Overview’. In Sounds of Then, Sounds of Now: Popular Music in Australia, ed. Shane Homan and Tony Mitchell, 113–30. Hobart, Tasmania: Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies.
Kidd, R. (1997) The Way We Civilize. St. Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press.
Kleinert, Sylvia (1999) ‘An Aboriginal Moomba: Remaking History’. Continuum 13/3: 345–57. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10304319909365806
Lake, M., and H. Reynolds (2008) Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511805363
Lankapida (Colombo) (1953) ‘August Festivities Supplement’. 4 August.
Lethbridge, Ann (1954) ‘Australians can All be Proud of Georgia Lee’. Courier-Mail (Brisbane), Letter to the Editor Section, 28 December.
Magowan, Fiona (2013) ‘Mission Music as a Mode of Intercultural Transmission, Charisma and Memory in Northern Australia’. In The Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities, ed. Suzel Reily and Jonathan Dueck, 45–68. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199859993.013.001
Melody Maker (London) (1954) ‘Georgia from “Down Under”’. 6 February.
Music Maker (1949) ‘Dusky Bombshell’. Display Advertising.
Neuenfeldt, Karl (2008) ‘“Ailan Style”: An Overview of the Contemporary Music of Torres Strait Islanders’. In Sounds of Then, Sounds of Now: Australian Popular Music, ed. Shane Homan and Tony Mitchell, 167–80. Hobart, Tasmania: Australian Clearing House for Youth Studies.
New Musical Express (London) (1954) Front Page. 5 February.
n.s. (no source) (ca. 1948) ‘Will Sing Banned Song’.
n.s. (1951) ‘White Men Coo-ee Blacks at Aboriginal Concert’.
n.s. (ca. post-1956) [Lennons Broadbeach Hotel Queensland] Review of Georgia Lee performance.
Patten, Herb (2007) ‘Stories of Aboriginal Heritage through a Multi Media Exploration of Gumleaf Music’. Master’s Thesis, RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), Melbourne.
Pitt, Dulcie (Georgia Lee) (1999) Interview with Karl Neuenfeldt and Nelson Conboy. 2 October, Cairns.
QANTAS: The Australian Way Magazine (2010) Inflight Entertainment. Sydney: ACP Magazines. July.
Queensland Music Festival (2014). ‘Yarrabah Band Festival: Celebrating the Sounds of Yarrabah’. Promotional poster. http://www.qmf.org.au/public/?id=300 (accessed 22 October 2014).
Ramsland, John, and Christopher Mooney (2007) ‘Out of the Dark: The First Successful All-Black Musical: Aboriginal Celebrity and Protest’. Victorian Historical Journal 1: 63–79.
Reigersberg, Muriel Swijghuisen (2013) ‘Christian Choral Singing in Aboriginal Australia: Gendered Absence, Emotion and Place’. In Performing Gender, Place and Emotion in Music: Global Perspectives, ed. Fiona Magowan and Louise Wrazen, 85–108. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.
Reynolds, H. (2003) North of Capricorn. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin.
Ridsdale, G. (2005) Blow’im: The Story of the Yarrabah Brass Band. Brisbane: Queensland Arts Council.
Ryan, Robin (2003) ‘Jamming on the Gumleaves in the Bush “Down Under”: Black Tradition, White Novelty?’ Popular Music and Society 3: 285–304. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0300776032000116969
Shnukal, Anna (2001) ‘Torres Strait Islanders’. In Multicultural Queensland 2001: 100 Years, 100 Communities, a Century of Contributions, ed. Maximilian Brandle, 21–35. Brisbane: Queensland Government.
Storr, John (1953) ‘An Appreciation: Farewell Appearance of Georgia Lee’. Playbill, 8 May.
Strutton, Bill (1954) ‘Dreamtime for Georgia: Aboriginal Girl Singer’s Success in London’. Australian Women’s Weekly. 24 March.
Sunday Herald (Sydney) (1949, no other date) ‘Artists’ Farewell: Parties of the Week’ [The World of Women section].
Szwed, J. (2011) Alan Lomax: The Man who Recorded the World. New York: Viking.
Thomas, Helen (1976) ‘“The Wiz” without that Rainbow’. Age (Melbourne). Showscene section, 1 January.
Thomas, Wilfred (1948) ‘Radio Roundabout’. The ABC Weekly. 3 April.
T.S.I.M.A [Torres Strait Islander Media Association] Newsletter (1984) ‘Georgia Lee Story’. 5 December.
Walker, C. (2000) Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music. Sydney: Pluto Press.
——(2009) Liner notes for Re-release of Georgia Lee Sings the Blues Down Under.
Watkin Lui, Felecia (2012) ‘My Island Home: Re-presenting Identities for Torres Strait Islanders Living outside the Torres Strait’. Journal of Australian Studies 2: 141–53.
Weare, Nick. (2010) ‘Indigenous Artist Celebrated after 50 Years’. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Radio National, The World Today). Reporter Annie Guest. Broadcast 9 October.
Whiteoak, J. (1999) Playing Ad Lib: Improvisatory Music in Australia 1836–1970. Strawberry Hills, Sydney: Currency Press.
Whiteoak, J., and A. Scott-Maxwell, eds. (2003) Currency Companion to Music and Dance in Australia. Sydney: Currency House.
York, Frank (2000) ‘Torres Strait Islander Music’. In The Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, ed. Sylvia Kleinert and Margo Neale, 340–44. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.