The Genius of John Rodgers

Some friends of mine gathered together in Brisbane last week to celebrate our friend, John Rodgers. We paid tribute to his musical works, compositions, art and life. John has been an amazing friend and mentor every since I met him and the Queensland Music Festival crew in 2003. Community theatre productions are their speciality and I was so fortunate enough to meet amazing creatives who the share the same love of music, singing, songwriting, performing arts and creativity.

John was the person who encouraged me and helped me write, Little Birung - a show about the women in my family, focusing on my Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Emily Clark (who experienced first contact) right down to me. We took the stories and memories of my Great-Grandmother, Flora Hoolihan and set them to song.

I would have not trusted just anyone with these stories and precious memories. My family wouldn’t of too. But this is testament to John and his ability to listen and fully respect, thoughts, feelings and the sentiment of the stories. What we were trying to say. What we have always wanted to say. His music and compositions have enabled Indigenous artists to share and sing their stories.

In 2014, John contracted pneumococcal meningitis and cerebral vasculitis as a complication resulting in serious brain damage and as a result he experiences ongoing physical and cognitive difficulties. But he has never lost his passion for music, the ability to give positive encouragement and suggestions to the performing artists and his wicked sense of humour.

It was our turn to speak for him that night. I am so honoured and privileged I got to do so. Here’s to the future John and singing many more sings with and for you!


Megan Sarmardin