Jane Campion (Film Maker/Writer)
“Listening to her is a totally original experience. Treasured, deep, intoxicating”
From “Testimony. The Legend of Charlie Parker” The Australian Art Orchestra, Hilary Shrub
“Of the vocal soloists, Sparke’s gut-wrenching Camarillo pt 2 which ended the first half was a showstopper”
Doug Spencer (ABC Radio National Producer/Programmer of The Planet)
“One day in 1992 I was wading through the then-seemingly-perpetual-magic-pudding of new releases. I put on the eponymous album by a Sydney-based, gospel-based choir, The Cafe of the Gate of Salvation. The first couple of tracks were good, not great, but good. Then came a track called “Child of Love”; once its vocal soloist (and, I later realised, author) launched into flight, the music was suddenly in utterly another league – her voice, her phrasing were utterly singular. Whoever this was, she was refreshingly herself, no pale shadow of Mahalia Jackson, Marion Williams, Rosetta Tharpe, whomever… She sounded nothing remotely like Aretha Franklin, but hearing her for the first time was similarly electrifying.
Her name, I discovered, was Tanya Sparke. Eventually, late in 1997, Tanya Sparke released her own album, Darkwood Road.
Nearly twenty years later, it remains one of my favourite Australian albums, ever. Its best songs are highly poetic, very beautiful, and not too much like each other. The singer’s voice is truly singular. That said, she never coasts on having “a lovely voice”, and she really interacts with the other musicians. Her delivery is adult, blessedly free of the “girly-whirley-twee” mannerisms, the “if I shout I might sound more black”, the poor diction, the phoney American accents, sheer inaccuracy, and various other shortcomings that so many “successful Australian recording artists” routinely inflict upon us. Equally pleasing is the album’s lack of production cliches. Its best cuts are still fresh, timeless – something definitely not true of most 1997 singer-songwriter recordings. It simply beggars belief that Darkwood Road should remain this artist’s only full release.”
Money made will go towards her 2nd and 3rd CD’s.
The heartbreaking story of author Colin Mackay who drove a truck filled with supplies to Bosnia from Scotland during that conflict to assist in some way. On staying to help he fell in love with a woman called Svetlana, the mother of two who’s husband had been killed earlier in that conflict. Colin wanted to take his love and her children back to Scotland with him and sought to attain the papers to do so. With papers in hand he returned to the village with the intent to leave as a family. However, the village had been wiped out and Svetlana and her children murdered. Svetlana was also pregnant with Colin’s child. Colin returned to Scotland a broken man. He would go on to write what would end up being his suicide letter to the world, Cold Night Lullaby. This song written by Karine Polwart has been sung by The Mae Trio and further arranged by myself. Here, my beautiful Yr 9/10 choir sing the song for them and in memory; Waterlily. Soloist- Stella Olive with Arlo helping as well.
On Wednesday morning I was out of town when a flood of messages came through my phone, surprisingly, as the internet was rarely available. Beautiful friends were trying to tell me that they’d listened in the heat of a Sydney night to their beloved Nightly Planet and what they heard was one of my compositions, one of the best songs I’ve ever written, The Heavenly Cornflower Blues.
I had no idea and I want to say thank you.
This is the reason this national radio show was so important…at least to me.
When the music is the most important thing, when you feel you’ve practised your art form but nobody listens and infact some leave you out. I always had the support of Doug Spencer and The Planet mob. You mob have been the only folk who have understood and supported. As I’ve grown more tired, Ive fallen more silent but I haven’t stopped writing or performing, even if it were only in my loungeroom. I’ve taken any support or gig always to improve and keep alive even if its meant facing a kind of self worth terror.
For me and others like me this programme was a life line. A message to say, ” keep going girl” and as my Father used to say; “don’t let the bastards grind you down”.
I’m so sad that this show has been cut but it’s a sign of the times. Lucky, Doug and Robyn are still doing great things and we’ll keep supporting their greatness and I’ll keep singing and composing.