The Life and Legacy of Music Victoria Hall of Fame 2023 Inductee, Kutcha Edwards

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The Life and Legacy of Music Victoria Hall of Fame 2023 Inductee, Kutcha Edwards

Credit: Jamie James
Words by Tammy Walters

In 1985, Jock Austin was named Victorian Aboriginal Person of the Year.

At the time Austin had founded the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service where he would forge a connection with a bright-eyed student who was undertaking an Aboriginal Health Care Workers course. That student was celebrated indigenous songwriter and storyteller, Kutcha Edwards.

As a survivor of the stolen generation, removed from his parents at the age of 18 months, Kutcha Edwards was missing a paternal figure in his life. This is a role Austin would step into, becoming the surrogate father figure to the Mutti Mutti man, leaving a lasting impact on his life and legacy as we know today, bestowing on him simple advice.

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“When Jock was named Victorian Aboriginal Person of the Year, I had to interview him for a video production role. I asked Jock, “Jock, what does it feel like to receive this award?” and he looked at me, and he sort of pointed at me, and he said, “Kutch, I’ll tell you something. I don’t do what I do for accolades, I do what I do because I believe in what I’m doing”, and I’ve travelled on and held on to that sort of mantra, to that ideology, ever since,” Edwards says.

Little did Edwards know at the time that prestigious awards and accolades would be afforded to him throughout his colourful career, including two national indigenous recognitions for his service to the community and Australia, Indigenous Person of the Year at the 2001 NAIDOC Awards and Deadly’s Male Artist of the Year the same year. 

Now, Kutcha Edwards has been immoralised, receiving the highest honour of being inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Music Victoria Awards. Nearly 33 years after his music career launched, and close to four decades after Austin’s advice was bestowed on him, Edward remains humble in his receiving, continually answering back to his purpose.

“I accept all that has come my way. I received a lot of prestigious awards and I understand the industry is acknowledging my work which I am grateful for but my role in the whole scheme of what it is that I do is to drop an imaginary pebble in an imaginary pond and what that does is creates a ripple, and you might have 500 people who come to a performance or a keynote speech or whatever it is that I do and 500 people will have their interpretation of what it is just happened in the last hour or however long I’ve conversated and performed. For me, I’m not about the gigs or about the performance. It’s about an interactive conversation,” he explains.

“I just love what I do and the opportunities that have been afforded to me through this amazing vehicle called music.”


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The ripples created by the Kutcha conversations and music offerings have been substantial, contributing to shaping our Australian narrative. Earlier this year, the ‘We Sing’ songwriter brought to life the story of John Pat, a tribute on the fortieth anniversary year of his passing in custody, through Songs for Freedom presented at Mona Foma. But his proudest achievement comes as a duo, being invited to sing at the DreamTime round at the MCG, once as a solo artist and the once with friend, Renee Geyer.  

“For me it’s about walking up onto the grass from underneath the bells of the MCG in the dressing rooms and you’re walking past 300 Aboriginal kids who were saying “Uncle Kutch”. What they’re doing is connecting themselves to you and they see what is open for them in their future,” he says.

Most notably, Edwards continues to inspire the voice of our next generation through weekly verse. He revitalised our national story through contributing lyrics to the revised version of ‘Advance Australia Fair’ in collaboration with Judith Durham, recording both the duet version and a solo version played in schools and at celebrations today.

 “I have a set of twin granddaughters in school in Reservoir and every Friday they have an assembly. The school plays me singing the revised national anthem – the one I wrote with Judith Durham gets played and projected onto a wall. My brother and sister’s grandchildren go there and they all take ownership over Poppy Kutch and the song. It’s beautiful!”

To Kutcha Edwards, this is what his journey and legacy is all about; his family. His stories are their stories, his songs are their songs and his achievements are their shared achievements. 

“I believe that all the songs that I have ever recorded have been gifted to me. I didn’t write it,” he says. 

“It’s about my family and they understand my role. They understand that when I speak my truth, I’m speaking their truth. It is telling my family story. It’s not an individual thing for me. So the Music Victoria Hall of Fame is not my award, it belongs to all of my family.”

To learn more about his induction and watch the 2023 live stream recording, head to Music Victoria Awards – 2023