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Indigenous artists in Archie Roach tribute concert

A stellar line-up of Indigenous musicians will play alongside the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in a concert celebrating the music of Archie Roach.

A Gunditjmara-Bundjalung elder, renowned singer-songwriter, and member of the Stolen Generations, Uncle Archie died in July 2022 at the age of 66.

The concert line-up for One Song includes didgeridoo player and composer William Barton, singer-songwriters Emma Donovan and Jess Hitchcock, and ex-Tiddas musician Sally Dastey.

Rapper Radical Son and musician Dan Sultan will also make their debuts with the orchestra.

One Song music director, Uncle Archie's longtime friend Paul Grabowsky, said putting the concert together had been emotional, because of their friendship and his huge esteem for Uncle Archie's work.

"I think he's one of the great singer-songwriters in the world, and certainly one of our greatest," the renowned musician told AAP.

Playing his music with a fresh cast of Indigenous musicians is especially meaningful, Grabowsky said.

"It brings a lot of currents together for me and I feel very, very happy that it's happening."

The friends first met in about 1995 in the South Australian town of Pimba, where Grabowsky interviewed Uncle Archie for an ABC TV series Access All Areas.

It was the start of a relationship that would last across decades and many musical projects: Uncle Archie even asked Grabowsky to produce the album that accompanied his memoirs.

Uncle Archie's last performance with the symphony orchestra in early 2022 was the original performance of One Song: The Music of Archie Roach at Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

One Song brings the backing of a full orchestra to his seminal songs, such as Took the Children Away, Jamu Dreaming and Weeping in the Forest.

Yet it's a delicate balance, according to Grabowsky, because the really important part of Uncle Archie's songs was the words and stories.

"The role of the orchestra is to create an environment for those songs to walk through," he said.

"It's shining a light on the beauty of the songs, but trying not to get in the way of what the songs are essentially about."

One Song: The Music of Archie Roach is on July 5 and 6 at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne as part of the orchestra's NAIDOC Week program.