Musicians offer songs for bushfires
Exclusive: Julia Stone was in London when her mother Kim sent the worrying text to the singer and songwriter, her brother Angus and sister Catherine.
"Mum and (partner) Albert were setting up in the caravan park at Lake Conjola - they're always travelling. And she sent a message, a photo of cars stuck on the freeway, completely shrouded in smoke," Stone says.
"She said they had to leave the van and would see what happens and try to get back there the following week. And 'Don't worry, we are going to get out OK'."
Stone and her siblings knew their mum would be fine. She also knew thousands other wouldn't be as the summer bushfire hell engulfed entire communities throughout Australia.
A late night listening session of her favourite Australian songs with good friend and producer Thomas Bartlett in an attempt to alleviate her anxiety about the loss of lives, homes and animals sparked an idea.
Stone and Bartlett went to a London studio the next day and recorded a stunning, and haunting, version of Midnight Oil's Beds Are Burning.
That session inspired her to expand the project and within days, her music friends from around the world, including brother Angus, Paul Kelly, Martha Wainwright, Damien Rice, Kurt Vile and The National were on board for the Songs For Australia album.
The National offered their version of the anthemic INXS ballad Never Tear Us Apart, Angus tackled the Go-Betweens' beloved Streets Of Your Town, while Irishman Rice covered with Sia's Chandelier.
Stone has teased some of the songs on streaming services ahead of the record's official release, amassing more than one million streams.
But it is the video for Beds Are Burning which will provoke all of the emotions.
An excerpt from Landcare champion and climate activist Bob Hawke's final interview opens the video, which also features the haunting chant "They don't listen" by Natasha
Bigfoot Lewis, Quinton Shields and Deborah Sing of the Karrabing community in the Northern Territory.
Stone also received the blessing of the members of Midnight Oil for her interpretation of Beds Are Burning, which recentres the 1987 song about indigenous rights back in the national conversation about First Nations burning practises to care for bushland.
"As I was reading up on why the fires had burned so out of control, I discovered how the Climate Council had been warning the government about this and then there was the blatant ignoring of indigenous practices of cultural burning," she said.
"It felt like Beds Are Burning was a positive way to bring that conversation to the fore because as Natasha says in the song 'What are we going to do when the whole world is fried?'
"It feels like this was a moment for Australia to come together and I think we should use this moment to change."
Stone said Songs For Australia will help the work of Landcare, Firesticks, the RFS, WildArk, SEED and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.
She is concerned the escalating coronavirus threat will shift focus from both the bushfire recovery effort and taking action to address climate change.
"I hope Australia can still focus on that even though the news has been overtaken by coronavirus," she said.
I have been speaking to a friend in Mallacoota because we are going to do some shows there with Paul Kelly and he was saying how incredibly traumatised everyone still is - every second person doesn't have a home.
"We can't forget."
Also released on Friday is Artists Unite for Fire Fight, 23 live performances from the historic concert at Sydney's ANZ Stadium last month which added more than $9.5 million to aid the bushfire recovery.
This collection will only be available as a two disc CD or for download via iTunes to maximise proceeds as streaming returns lower royalties.
Funds will go towards supporting young Australians in bushfire affected communities via the Sony Foundation.
The Songs For Australia tracklisting is:
The National - Never Tear Us Apart (INXS)
Petit Biscuit - Chateau (Angus and Julia Stone)
Dermot Kennedy - Resolution (Matt Corby)
Dope Lemon - Streets of Your Town (The Go-Betweens)
Kurt Vile - Stranger Than Kindness (Nick Cave)
Joan As Police Woman - Hearts A Mess (Gotye)
Damien Rice - Chandelier (SIA)
Martha Wainwright - The Ship Song (Nick Cave)
Paul Kelly - Native Born (Archie Roach)
Dan Sultan - Into My Arms (Nick Cave)
Pomme - Big Jet Plane (Angus and Julia Stone)
Julia Stone - Beds Are Burning (Midnight Oil)
Sam Amidon - Let Me Down Easy (Gang Of Youths)
Artists Unite for Fire Fight tracklisting is:
1. Lee Kernaghan - Ute Me
2. Conrad Sewell - Healing Hands
3. Baker Boy - Cool As Hell
4. Daryl Braithwaite - As The Days Go By
5. Pete Murray - Feeler
6. Grinspoon - Chemical Heart
7. Jessica Mauboy - Saturday Night
8. Illy - Last Laugh
9. Guy Sebastian - Before I Go
10. Peking Duk feat. The Baroness - High
11. Delta Goodrem - Let It Rain
1. Ronan Keating - When You Say Nothing At All
2. Tina Arena - Chains
3. Alice Cooper - School's Out / Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2
4. Amy Shark - I Said Hi
5. 5 Seconds Of Summer - Youngblood
6. Queen + Adam Lambert - Hammer To Fall
7. Michael Bublé - Such A Night
8. Hilltop Hoods feat. Montaigne - 1955
9. k.d lang - Hallelujah
10. Icehouse with special guests William Barton & Evan Davies - We Can Get Together
11. John Farnham & Olivia Newton John - Two Strong Hearts
12. John Farnham with Olivia Newton-John, Mitch Tambo & Brian May - You're The Voice