On Easter Monday, 2013, the 2013 ‘Songs for Social Justice’ Award was presented at the final concert of the National Folk Festival in Canberra. The winning song, ‘Mining Man’ was performed by its composers, The Lurkers – Sydney-based proponents of “subversive homespun bluegrass”. The following letter from the judges (written when the identity of each of entrants was still unknown to them) provides an eloquent and fitting tribute to both The Lurkers and to Alistair Hulett, whose songwriting and political activism are commemorated by this Award.
The Judges’ Report
Delivered at the National Folk Festival
Monday 1 April, 2013
The Songs for Social Justice Award is a powerful reminder of three things. It continues to respect and honour the legacy of Alistair Hulett, who became during his lifetime a leading political songwriter in Australia and Scotland. Secondly, the Award provides a vital opportunity for emerging and established political artists to be heard and supported. And thirdly, the entries collectively are a window onto contemporary grass roots communities, and the issues that inspire and unite them.
We were delighted to agree without hesitation upon ‘Mining Man’ as the winner of the 2013 Songs for Social Justice Award. This song buzzes with the energy of activism and resistance, and brings to our attention the pressing issue of coal seam gas mining across Australia and further afield. The lyrics are poetic, and the melody shows both a knowledge and love of folk music traditions. Perhaps most importantly, like the best folk music, the song is transportable: it could be sung by any number of people anywhere and retain the power and punch of its message.
We would like to congratulate all entrants in this year’s award, and to extend an open invitation for submissions to next year’s award.
Once again, all the best to the writers of ‘Mining Man’.
Judy Small, Kate Fagan, Peter Hicks