Acclaimed singer songwriter Paddy McHugh has teamed up with veteran First Nations broadcaster Dan Rennie (98.9FM) to write a song about the tragedy of black deaths in custody, 'Can You Hear Us?'. Paddy and Dan had been working on the song for several months when the news of the killing of George Floyd broke and the world began to mobilise. Together they rushed to finish the song and now introduce it into the world to add to the chorus of voices shouting Black Lives Matter. The song is simple yet powerful, the duo enlisting respected First Nations musician Glenn Skuthorpe and vocalist Pauline Maudy to bring it to life. Listen to 'Can You Hear Us?'
In the song, Paddy and Dan list names of First Nations people who have died in custody in an avalanche that highlights the volume of the tragedy while keeping it sharply personal. They set out to contact families of the deceased to seek permission to use the names of their loved ones in the song. This onerous task of finding the families of 54 people started them on a challenging yet immensely rewarding journey. Friends, journalists, lawyers and community members joined the effort to help and set out to locate as many families as they could and get the song's pressing message out with the families' blessings.
Talking to these families brought home the reality of their grief and frustration and gave Paddy and Dan an insight into the significance of their individual searches for justice and closure. They were met with overwhelming and unanimous support.
Raised in Tamworth before moving off to Sydney and immersing himself in the city's gritty punk scene, Paddy McHugh now calls Brisbane home. He comes from the Paul Kelly school of songwriting in that simplicity is key and everyday life makes the best stories. With a strong record of writing about social justice issues and almost a decade of work in the First Nations education sector, Paddy feels privileged to be able to lend his voice at this crucial time.
Paddy McHugh and Dan Rennie are friends and colleagues, having worked together for years at Brisbane's 98.9FM First Nations Radio - Dan as a presenter and station manager, Paddy as a guest artist, producer and presenter.
All proceeds from the release will go to 'Sisters Inside' - a First Nations organisation helping Queensland's most disadvantaged women and children.