The Song Keepers


Central Australia’s answer to The Buena Vista Social Club, The Song Keepers tells the uplifting story of women from the world’s oldest culture preserving some of the world’s oldest sacred songs, connecting Germany to Aboriginal history in the process.

In the central desert region around Hermannsburg, west of Alice Springs, a hidden 140-year musical legacy of ancient Aboriginal languages and German baroque hymns is being preserved by four generations of song women who form the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir.

Singing 14th-century Lutheran hymns – brought to the area by missionaries – in their own western Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara tongues, the choir’s efforts to save these sacred songs are boosted by the arrival from Melbourne of a charismatic conductor who orchestrates a historic tour of Germany to bring the hymns back to their homeland.

Award-winning filmmaker Naina Sen documented that tour, and its preparations, capturing the highs and lows as these remarkable women share their music and stories of cultural survival, identity and inclusive cross-cultural collaboration with the world. The resulting film is a joyous celebration of music.

It doesn't matter where you are from, music brings us together.—A singer of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir



The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir
Morris Stuart
Release dates
6 August 2017 – World premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival
19 April 2018 – Australia
Potential Films

The songs are sung in Pitjantjatjara and Western Aranda.

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An appropriate citation for this document is:, Movies - The Song Keepers, retrieved 17 December 2018