Born in 1955 in South West Victoria, Shane Howard combines a deep understanding of poetic and musical folk traditions and captures something essential of the spirit of Australia in words and music, nevertheless, his songs have a global reach and explore universal themes.
Shane was the founding member of the legendary Australian band Goanna. Goanna’s ‘Spirit Of Place’ album (1982) was the first Australian album to go to the top of the Australian charts in its first week of release. The album was released in 35 territories worldwide, with its greatest commercial success was in Australia. The first single from the album, ‘Solid Rock’, topped the charts back in 1982, displacing ‘Rock The Casbah’ by The Clash. ‘Solid Rock’ is now an Australian iconic son, heard regularly on Australian radio. The song was the first commercial song to use a didjeridu. Its powerful lyrics and music denounced the injustice that Aboriginal Australia had lived with, since the colonisation of Australia in 1788.
His solo albums have been well received critically and are consistent sellers. The 1993 single Flesh and Blood went on to be recorded by Mary Black who had a top 5 Irish single with her version of the song. He has produced albums for many other artists. Predominantly, these have been Aboriginal artists: Archie Roach, The Pigram Brothers, Joe Geia, Jimmy Chi, Patricia Clarke, Andy Alberts, Robbie Bundle, Rocky Carbine & Keith Williams.He has also produced tracks for Irish songstress Mary Black as well as Mossie Scanlon, Oriel Glennen and Colin Buchanan. His songs have been recorded by many artists including Mary Black, Troy CassarDaley, John Farnham and Lene Siel (Denmark).
He has toured Ireland, Australia, Holland and the US with Mary Black. A special guest of the Guinness Tour of Irish Music 1997. He performed with Joe Geia for Nelson Mandela’s Australian visit to Melbourne in 2000. He was a guest performer for the Australian reception to welcome Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu and a special guest for Senator Bob Brown’s 25th Anniversary of the saving of the Franklin River in July 2008.
In announcing Shane as the Artist of the Year for the 2005 Port Fairy Folk Festival award, Festival Director, Jamie McKew said, “Shane Howard bridges the land between poet and song-writer; between prophet and singer; even between white fellas and indigenous artists”.
Howard performed ‘Solid Rock’ at the 2006 Australian Football League Grand Final to an audience of 90,000 people, and at the 2007 and 2012 AFL, ‘Dreamtime at the ‘G” matches.
He was awarded a Fellowship by the Australia Council for the Arts in 2000, in recognition of his contribution to Australian musical life.Howard was also an Australian representative at the 2000 North American Folk Alliance convention and is a life member of the Australian Folk Alliance.
As a founding member of ‘The Black Arm Band’, in 2008 and 2009 Howard traveled with the ensemble performances at WOMADUK, The Sydney International Festival, WOMADelaide, The Melbourne International Arts Festival and the London International Festival of Theatre. He has performed as
special guest on many of the Black Arm Band concerts.
In 2012 he released a book of his lyrics and a childrens book of the song, ‘Solid Rock’, illustrated with images by the young people from the communities of Mutitjulu, Imanpa & Kaltakatjara,
that all have strong connections to Uluru.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of his iconic song ‘Solid Rock’. To celebrate the anniversary of this iconic and historical song, a community concert was held at Uluru, in the shadow of the mighty iconic monolith where Howard was joined on stage by Archie Roach, Warren Williams,Neil Murray, John Butler, Dan Sultan, Amy Saunders and Natalie Pa’apa’a.
Howard continues to work as a writer, singer, producer and mentor traveling nationally & internationally.
“While they are deeply evocative of Australia, a “spirit of place”, Howard¹s songs have a global reach. … there are few contemporary musicians who have made such an enduring impact…. we need the music of people like Shane Howard to feed our souls and keep our hopes alive for a better future.”
Aziz Choudry, Montreal
“He sounds as though he has drunk deeply from the same fountain that gave the world Henry Lawson, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan”.
Bruce Elder – Sydney Morning Herald