ONE of Australia’s great, but little acknowledged, musical talents has died.
Auriel Andrew, who spent the last 34 years of her life living in Newcastle, died in Hunter Valley Private Hospital on January 2. She was 69.
An Arrernte woman from the Northern Territory, Andrew was renowned for her smooth and dulcet vocals. Her career began in the 1960s working with Chad Morgan. Later she became a regular on the Reg Lindsay Show.
She performed at the 1973 grand opening of the Sydney Opera House, and sang a papal performance of Amazing Grace during Pope John Paul II’s 1986 visit to Australia. She appeared in the 2000 SBS documentary Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music and was performing in the spin-off stage show until her death.
Husband Barry Francis said she was a “great talent” who never received the acknowledgement she was due because of racial discrimination.
“She did it hard, she never got a fair go,” Mr Francis said.
“If you were a black woman you were at the back of the line.”
Mr Francis said Andrew was a woman who would be remembered for her “beautiful voice” and her wicked sense of humour.
Her last official performance was in Dubbo in October. However, on Christmas Day she performed for her grandchildren in the foyer of the hospital.
“She performed Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer and Walking After Midnight.”
She is survived by two children, Sarina and Reuben, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.