Steven Richardson is the founder of the Black Arm Band and producer of the highly anticipated musical event of the year, Notes from the Hard Road and Beyond. While he personally doesn’t sing, this visionary director is looking forward to a night of beautiful melodies to close the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

“This has been an incredibly uplifting process and it’s going to be a night of inspiration,” says Richardson, “We are fortunate enough to have a range of talent and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Notes is a combination of songs of political protest, civil action, songs of love, hope and optimism and the evening is studded with voices from the likes of Rickie Lee Jones, Mavis Staples, Joss Stone, Emmanuel Jal and of course the Black Arm Band.

The success of the show has been the result of Richardson’s vision to bring together some of the world’s best talent to share the stage with our very own locally grown group of artists and performers. “The name itself [referring to the Black Arm Band] is a political play on words, and we were a pre-apology company so we have always, whether in the past or today, continue to make a political statement – but we do so in order to capture a view offers a  celebratory and positive view of history.”

Supported as one-off project in 2006 the Black Arm Band has had remarkable success that has allowed it to travel overseas and perform. “We’re going to the London Olympics and performing as part of the Cultural program – and there are plenty of opportunities for us both nationally and internationally. But at the same time we also known that it is our local support, the strength and commitment of those who believe in this project that enables us to be who we are. And because of that we always prioritize travelling to remote communities and ensure that Australians hear our music at a local level.”

While each project is different there is a solid core group who form the nexus of the Black Arm Band and according to the project the number of artists who join is fluid. “We are custodians of an organization and while we’re still going and there’s plenty of life yet we look forward to being to hand this down to a younger generation who are passionate about making people’s sprits sing.”

Notes From The Hard Road and Beyond plays as part of the 2011 Melbourne Festival at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Sat 22 Oct at 8pm – further details»

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