Russell Morris gives back on Anzac tribute album
WRITING and recording a song dedicated to the Anzacs is Russell Morris's way of giving back to the community that supported his family.
The Australian singer-songwriter, famous for his iconic debut solo single The Real Thing, benefited from the support of Legacy Australia after his father's service in the Second World War.
"My father was captured in Singapore by the Japanese and forced to march to Ranau with 600 other prisoners," Morris said.
"After the war, only 30 of them could be accounted for. My father, with four others, escaped halfway along the march and they were on the run for six months. Then they were recaptured and put into jail. They suffered so badly from what happened in the prison camps.
"My father died when I was two, so I was a Legacy child. I benefited from that - I went to a farm every year and they paid for me to go to school - so I feel I have an obligation to give something back."
Morris penned the original song White Feather for Sony Masterworks' Remembrance, a 24-track Anzac tribute of poetry and music.
All of the iTunes artist, label and publishing royalties from his song will be donated to Soldier On.
"You've got to admire the people who go to war; they're so brave," he said.
"What they have to go through, even the modern soldiers, must be horrifying."
Morris recorded the song in a simple arrangement with an acoustic guitar, but also enjoys performing the song live with a blues twist.
"I'm very happy with the style, the sentiment and the idea behind it," he said.
"Back in the First and Second World Wars people who didn't go to war were sent white feathers because they were considered cowards.
"Those powerful stories really stuck in my mind."
After taking a break from songwriting, following the rapid-fire release of his trilogy of Australian story albums, Morris is back on his guitar.
"I pushed out those three albums so quickly, in the space of four years, that what I look at every time I pick up the pen is a blank sheet paper," he said.
"Just prior to this interview I was working on something. I've got a feeling I'm starting to sniff out like a bloodhound looking for truffles. A few things are starting to work for me."
Remembrance features new recordings from Damien Leith and a rendition of Song of Australia by Lee Kernaghan, Col Buchanan and Sara Storer.
The CD also features the last recording of the late Jon English, reciting In Flanders Fields and The Legacy Ode, as well as a haunting closing performance by James Morrison with a new recording of The Last Post.
Morris will leave any Anzac Day concerts to the other artists from the album. He's already committed to march in Melbourne in memory of his father.
"I was contacted by my father's old unit the Second 29, there are only two survivors left, and they asked me if I'd march with them," he said. "They also asked would I play at a lunch for them the day before."
Remembrance is out now.