FIVE young University of Queensland students are on a musical campaign to counter the impact of last year’s terrorist bombings on Bali.
The Bali bombings have had a profound impact on the group who felt a need to reach out to those personally involved and show how much they care.
Their band is called Xavier and their journey began with a song they wrote.
One of the students, Brisbane Catholic Kieran Bitossi, was inspired to share the band’s story with The Catholic Leader after browsing through an old copy with a story about a song writing competition.
The competition was to write a song to help others or raise awareness of a particular issue and Kieran said it prompted him to ‘share an emotional, touching and rewarding journey myself and four others have recently returned from’.
They performed their song, Loving it Bali , during the wreath-laying ceremony in Bali last month to commemorate the first anniversary of the terrorist bombings.
Kieran heard the song three months ago.
‘Immediately the power of the song made its mark.
‘It was sung in Indonesian and English and the unique lyrics seemed to embrace and unite the two cultures so deeply scarred by the tragic events of October 12, 2002.’
Immediately after hearing it, Kieran approached Xavier to ask if they needed a manager.
He said it was a song that he felt he needed to do something about.
Kieran said the band consists of Rocky Rashid on bass guitar and backup vocals; Martin MacDonald, lead guitar and lead singer; Yuri Johnson, rhythm guitar and Ellie Dunn on drums.
All are aged between 18 and 21.
Kieran said Rocky Rashid, who has joint Indonesian and English citizenship, wrote the song
‘He spent a lot of holidays when growing up in Bali.
‘He went back there for a holiday after the bombing and one day he just sat on the beach and wrote the song.’
Kieran said he wanted the song to leave its mark on others as well as himself, but there was never any thought of profit.
‘All of us didn’t think it was right to profit from people’s pain so we decided that if any money was raised from the song it should go to the victims and their families to assist with their ongoing rehabilitation.’
Kieran said Ellie, also a Catholic, who lives at Duchesene College at the university, made sure of that.
‘The band also decided to remain as low key as possible before the event to ensure the integrity of what we were doing remained unscarred.’
Kieran said getting to Bali had not been easy.
‘Getting there involved hundreds of phone calls, lots of rehearsal time and organisation.’
Kieran said he contacted some of the survivors to make sure they didn’t mind the song and what the band wanted to do with it.
‘One of my first calls was to Andrew Csabi who lost his legs in the Sari Club.’
Kieran said Andrew, a young man from the Gold Coast, was inspirational.
‘He was very supportive and we actually travelled over there with Andrew.
‘The government was sponsoring people involved to attend the memorial services and I want to say we didn’t receive any of that sponsorship. But when we got there they wanted to use our song.’
The band actually performed two songs during the wreath-laying ceremony, which was attended by Prime Minister John Howard.
The second song was a reflective piece not written about Bali but with appropriate lyrics.
‘But that wasn’t the purpose of the trip. We actually went over there to play at Hard Rock as part of the Bali 9s AFL competition post-match function.’
Kieran said after the Hard Rock performance he was approached by Opposition Leader Simon Crean and asked if one of his good friends could join the band for a few songs.
‘I obliged willingly, especially when I realised his friend was (singer) John Williamson.
‘We also played for the international family day which was for the widows and orphaned children of Bali, an event that was truly special.’
Kieran said another invitation to play came from a fellow Aussie.
‘Our final event was for the Australian families and hosted by a real Aussie, Spike Stewart, the man who yelled out to Amrozi in court.
‘We played in memory of Spike’s son, Anthony, that night and it was an opportunity to celebrate those young innocent lives.’
Kieran said the sign that the students had achieved what they wanted with the song came with the presentation of a cheque to Andrew Csabi to help him buy his prosthetic limbs.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
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