In 2021, the Yugambeh Youth Choir recorded and released an original song, ‘Morning Star and Evening Star’, written by Candace Kruger, Lann Levinge, and Isobella Kruger in collaboration with AMEB Online Orchestra.
In the 1930s, a young Lottie Eaton (Levinge) stayed with her grandmother, Jenny Graham, while she attended school in Southport. Every night, her grandmother sang to her.
She sang a sweet lullaby, which Lottie adored. It was about two stars caught in twinkling conversation.
Over sixty years later, in 1996, Aunty Lottie recalled the song for her 24-year-old great-niece, Candace Kruger, pleased to find that, though she hadn’t heard or sung the song in Yugambeh language for over 60 years, she could still remember the English translation of the lyrics:
“Morning Star and Evening Star
Who is the fat one and who is the thin one?
Morning Star and Evening Star
Who should come out first?
Morning Star calls to Evening Star, ‘Come on!’
Evening Star sings out, ‘No, you go ahead!’”
Candace took this memory, and in her role as a Songwoman, she recruited co-writers Lann Levinge and Isobella Kruger to rewrite the lost lullaby Aunty Lottie had been so fond of. But this time, they imbued the song with the tale of its recollector.
The opening lyrics, “Many years she sings of her country, as whisper, a lullaby / In little ears she tells a story, two stars, bright, nearby,” refer to Lottie Eaton’s recollection of her grandmother, Jenny Graham, whispering the lullaby to her at night.
The rest of the song goes on to tell the story Lottie recalled, about mulagan (Sirius – the Eaglehawk), the morning star, and wagahn, the evening star (Canopus - crow star). The song also features kagaru (kookaburra) who is responsible for waking the spirits in the sky.
“Kagaru always laughs at dawn, he tells us it is daybreak and the Morning Star is fading. Kargaru laughs again at dusk as the Evening Star begins to rise, reminding us all it is time for our rest.” – Ian Levinge, Elder
When it reached Candace and her co-writers, the Morning Star and Evening Star songline had been passed down through at least seven generations. Now, it has been immortalised and shared across the country as part of living culture.
Special thanks are owed to the Elders in community who gave their support to the readaptation of Morning Star and Evening Star, and to the Australian Music Examinations Board, who commissioned this piece for their 2021 Online Orchestra.
Elders: Graham Dillon, John Graham, Hazel Kennedy, Ian Levinge, Ray Levinge, Ivan Nott, Rose Nott, Patricia O’Connor, Ted Williams
Watch the song premiere, featuring interviews with Candace Kruger, Lann Levinge, and Isobella Kruger
Watch the official music video, featuring the Yugambeh Youth Choir
Watch the AMEB Online Orchestra official performance
Artwork by Isobella Kruger
The ‘Morning Star and Evening Star’ artwork was painted by Kombumerri/Ngugi woman, Isobella Kruger, and adapted into a digital graphic by Gamilaraay graphic designer, Paula Nihot. The piece depicts the two titular stars of the song. The larger, warm-toned star represents mulagan (the morning star) in colours reminiscent of a sunrise. The smaller, purple star, represents wagahn (the evening star) in colours reminiscent of a sunset. Both stars are depicted with long, thin scintillations inspired by the wingspans of their corresponding bird associations: mulagan’s eagle and wagahn’s crow.