He's played for Prime Ministers, Aboriginal Elders and Environmental campaigners, from concert halls to protest sites and remote campfires. He's been a guest artist for Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Carole King among others.
His iconic song, ‘Solid Rock, Sacred Ground’, lit a fire for the rights of Aboriginal people in Australia nearly 40 years ago that hasn't gone out. It’s been recorded and performed, many times in the ensuing years and translated into several Aboriginal Languages.
He was the founding member of the legendary Australian band Goanna. ‘Solid Rock’ was the first commercial song to use a didjeridu and its powerful lyrics and music denounced the injustice that Aboriginal Australia had endured since colonisation.
He was also a founding member and a driving force behind the Black Arm Band, a national Australian ensemble that brought together some of the most influential Aboriginal artists to tour Australia and the World.
He has released 14 solo albums, 4 albums with Goanna and has produced albums for many other artists: Archie Roach, The Pigram Brothers, Joe Geia, Jimmy Chi, Mossie Scanlon, Mary Black. His songs have been recorded and performed by Joan Baez, Mary Black, Troy Cassar Daley, John Farnham and Lene Siel (Denmark), Jessica Mauboy, Missy Higgins and more.
He was awarded a Fellowship by the Australia Council for the Arts in 2000, in recognition of his contribution to Australian musical life. He was an Australian representative at the 2000 North American Folk Alliance convention and is a life member of the Australian Folk Alliance.
In announcing Shane as the Artist of the Year for the 2005 Port Fairy Folk Festival, Festival Director, Jamie McKew said, "Shane Howard bridges the land between poet and song-writer; between prophet and singer; between white fellas and indigenous artists".
In 2012 he released a book of his lyrics and a children’s book of the song, ‘Solid Rock-Puli Kunpungka’, working with senior Anangu to translate the song into Pitjantjatjara.
As part of the 30th anniversary in 2012 of the release of ‘Solid Rock’, Howard marked the occasion by convening a concert in partnership with the Mutitjulu Community at Uluru and was joined by long term musical friends Archie Roach, John Butler, Dan Sultan, Amy Saunders (Tiddas), among others, for a truly unique Australian community concert.
In 2016 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the performing arts as a singer, songwriter and guitarist to the recording industry, and to Indigenous musicians.
In 2016 he was Artistic Director and Co-Producer of the sold out & critically acclaimed Australian-Irish live musical production, ‘Exile, Songs & Tales of Irish Australia’.
In 2018 ‘Solid Rock’ was identified by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia as one of the ‘essential sounds that helped define Australian history and culture’ and was added to the NFSA ‘Sound Of Australia’ Collection.
In 2019 he released the song ‘Palya Wiru Uluru’ written with Senior Anangu songwriter Trevor Adamson to commemorate the climb closure at Uluru.
In 2022 Howard and his legendary band, Goanna, embarked on an extensive 30 concert national tour, paying homage to their classic Spirit of Place album and reigniting the Goanna spirit that championed Aboriginal rights and environmental justice in the 1980’s, featuring performances at ‘WOMADelaide’ and also as special guests for ‘Midnight Oil’.
In 2022 he was named as an Ambassador for ‘Childrens Ground’, a First Nations run organisation working to make real and lasting change for First Nations people.
Howard is a respected senior statesman in Australia who continues to work as a poet, musician, writer, singer, producer and mentor.
He is currently writing his autobiography.
Howard is one of Australia's most influential songwriters who combines a deep understanding
of poetic and musical folk traditions and captures something essential
of the spirit of Australia in words and music.Nevertheless, his songs
have a global reach and explore universal themes.
Aziz Choudry, Montreal.