When the Sydney Opera House opened in 1973, among the performers at the opening was Auriel Andrew.
It was a career highlight for the Aboriginal singer who was remembered at a funeral service this week, conducted by former radio presenter and Country Music Awards of Australia judge Geoff Gregory.
Auriel was born in Darwin in 1947 and grew up in Alice Springs.
She would go on to make her professional debut at Coober Pedy in the late 1960s, before moving to Adelaide in the 1970s where she become a regular on Reg Lindsay’s Country Hour on television.
Her album Just for You, released in 1971, was the first of five albums recorded by Auriel.
At her funeral service, her sister spoke about the family’s tough life, which Auriel herself had spoken about in previous interviews with Fairfax Media.
“I’ve been singing for more than 40 years and I didn’t think I’d even reach 40,” she told .
“There were seven of us children and we’ve lost three sisters and two brothers. Lorraine reached 60 and then cancer got her.
“That leaves my sister Rhonda and myself. She’s the third youngest and I’m the baby.”
Andrew’s mother died when she was “about 50”.
“There was no birth certificate for her but you go by what people talk about. We can only guess their ages roughly by what they talked about, for example, your mother was about this age when that happened,” she said.
“We’d go by songs that Slim Dusty used to sing. He had a hit The Rain Tumbles Down In July and I was about 8 or 9. Nothing was written down.”
Among Auriel’s awards during her career was the Jimmy Little Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Music at The Deadlys in 2008.
She also received an Order of Australia Medal in 2011.
Auriel’s last performance was in Dubbo in October last year. She is survived by two children, Sarina and Reuben, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.