Melbourne musician Mojo Juju has penned a response to a column written by conservative commentator Andrew Bolt in which he shared his views of her powerful song “Native Tongue”.
In a column published by the Herald Sun newspaper this month titled “ACADEMIC COMPLAINS: MORRISON’S MUSIC IS TOO WHITE”, Bolt slammed RMIT University academic Catherine Strong’s recent criticism of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Spotify playlists, which she said “featured a lot of white males, mostly a bit past their use-by date.”
Writing for The Conversation, the academic cited Mojo Juju’s songs as an example of music “grappling with what it means to be Australian.”
But Andrew Bolt claimed Strong had used “the yardstick of identity politics” in her analysis of Morrison’s musical habits, and offered up his own thoughts on the meaning behind “Native Tongue”.
“Seriously? Morrison is meant to bop in his car to a song complaining about being an Aboriginal who ‘doesn’t speak my father’s tongue’?” Bolt wrote.
“Is music listening a political activity or an aesthetic one? Should we listen out of pity or for our pleasure?
“Can Morrison please be allowed to listen to music to please himself, rather than to further some political agenda?”
Mojo Juju, who identifies as a mixed-race queer woman, responded by writing a self-described “love letter” to Bolt congratulating him on “doing such an excellent job of demonstrating some of the reasons why writing a song and an album like ‘Native Tongue’ was so important.”
“Unfortunately, I think Mr. Bolt may have missed some of the nuances of my song,” she wrote.
“The song ‘Native Tongue’ is not a ‘complaint’ as he suggested, and I think to view it as complaining would be slightly reductive, but that’s just my opinion.
“I wrote this song as an expression of some complex emotions, such as grief for a loss of culture and Indigenous languages and other impacts of assimilation, colonisation and the white-washing of non-western cultures.
“This is not a song of self-pity, it is a song of self-empowerment.”
Juju went on to say Bolt was “wrong to suggest that listening to music is purely an aesthetic pursuit.”
“Sure, we all listen to music for pleasure, but music has always held a mirror to society,” she said.
“It has always been a snapshot of the issues that affect the people.
“Sure, ScoMo should listen to whatever music he likes when he is turning those snags on his BBQ or cruisin’ around in his luxury car, but if he cared about what is happening out in this Country that he is supposedly leading he would listen to more of our voices.”
Mojo Juju also said she was “inclined to think” that the messages in ‘Native Tongue’ might resonate with Scott Morrison’s constituents more than he or Mr. Bolt might expect.
“While my exact mixed heritage may not be the norm, the feelings I raise in the song are more common than he might realise,” she said.
“Regardless of whether ScoMo can personally relate to the lyrics or the experience, as a leader, he should be concerned with how his constituents relate to this song and what they experience.
“I believe that good leadership is about listening. I also believe that music is a powerful communication tool, one that transgresses time, geography, age, gender and race.
“Music can unite, divide, and inspire revolutions, across generations.
“So thank you Mr. Bolt, for highlighting an important issue and including me in the conversation.”
Juju is nominated for three ARIA Awards at tonight’s ceremony, including Breakthrough Artist of the year.