Originally from Macksville on the New South Wales North Coast, Tim is a Gumbaynggir man now based in Sydney. Tim is also an accomplished musician, a student of the Eora College, a classically trained pianist, and now lead singer and keyboard player for Indigenous reggae band, ‘Green Hand Band’.
“'Social Change' is about shedding light and raising awareness on the positive impacts of a particular form of activism and how that activism has created social change,” says Tim, explaining the format of the show.
“It’s a talkback show, so it’s also for the listeners to have their say, but we want to make sure listeners understand that we want to keep things in a positive light. We play music based around social change as well, political songs.”
Tim says that his motivation for establishing the program grew from his desire to raise awareness on social issues affecting not just Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities but peoples all over the world. Importantly, the program focuses on positive examples of social activism and the many ways individuals and collectives have brought about positive change in their societies.
“Mainstream news is showing what’s bad about the world, but I want to let people know what’s good about the world,” says Tim.
Some of the political leaders and icons of social change that Tim admires most include Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and Che Guevara. Here at home, he acknowledges the long and proud history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander activism, mentioning the likes of Barangaroo, Pemulwuy and Bennelong from the earlier years of Aboriginal and European contact , up to modern day activists such as William Craigie, Isabella Coe and Michael Anderson, to name just a few.
Being a musician, Tim also makes mention of the many artists who have inspired and advocated for social change in their music – such as Bob Marley and John Lennon, and Indigenous singers, Bunna Lawrie and Kev Carmody, whom he considers to have been particularly influential and inspirational.
Tim: I’m a Gumbaynggir man, born in Macksville, I grew up in East Hills in Sydney.
How did you get into broadcasting?
Tim: In 2014 I applied to become part of a Gadigal talent development project. As part of that, my band was able to record our EP at the Gadigal studio and our EP was released on the Gadigal music label. That’s how I first got involved with Koori Radio and things went from there.
Who's your favourite artist?
Tim: Bob Marley
What’s you favourite album?
Tim: The ‘Legend’ album, Bob Marley and the Wailers.
What’s your favourite food?
If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
If you could meet any person, from any moment in history, who would it be?
Tim: The Big Book of AA, my favourite fiction book would be '1984' by George Orwell.
What was the first album you bought?
Tim: ‘Walking With a Panther’ – L.L Cool J.
Do you have a favourite Aboriginal artist?
Tim: Archie Roach.
Do you have a favourite song of your own?
Tim: Probably the one I've just written, its called 'Fair Skinned Jarjum', it's about me being fair skinned and having to put up with prejudice from both sides.
Where do you write most of your songs?
Tim: In my spare bedroom, which is a room slash studio now that I've cleaned it up.
How did 'Green Hand Band' come about?
Tim: I had a lot of friends who were muso's and the same people I asked to be in the band had the similar mindset as I had as far as my political, spiritual and environmental beliefs go, so I chose them for a reason and it just sort of ended up like that. I was performing in other bands previously, I'd done the solo thing with classical piano, but because I had written a few songs beforehand and was writing more I thought why not start my own band and get my own songs out there.
Do you have song writing tips?
I usually think of a significant experience I've had in my life then I try to put it to words and a melody and see what happens. Life experience is a big part of it.
Do you have a favourite saying or motto?
Tim: Don't count the days, make the days count.
Do you have any pets?
Tim: No, well, I do have a Japanese water lilly called 'Lilly'.
Do you have any fears or phobias?
Tim: Yep, flying.
What's your favourite Koori Radio program, other than your own?
Tim: 'Making Tracks'.
What's your pet peeve?
Tim: When people ask, 'what percentage Aboriginal are you?'
What's the most embarrassing song on your music collection?
Tim: 'Whip It' by Devo, or something by Barry Manilow.
Tune in to Social Change with Tim Gray every Saturday from 10:00am to 12:00pm