He was born and raised by the banks of the Merri River, in the unremarkable coastal town of Dennington, South West Victoria, Australia, in the heartland of Irish Famine migration. He was the founding member of legendary Australian band, Goanna, whose Spirit Of Place album resonated around Australia, as did the first single from the album, Solid Rock. It was the first commercial song to use didjeridu and its powerful lyrics and music were a velvet sledgehammer to the injustice that Aboriginal Australia had endured, since colonisation in 1788. Solid Rock topped the charts in 1982–‘83 and has grown to become an iconic Australian song.
In 1983, with Goanna and friends, under the nom de plume, Gordon Franklin & The Wilderness Ensemble, Shane wrote and recorded the song, Let The Franklin Flow, as a protest and fundraiser to help stop the damming of Tasmania's spectacular Franklin River. Shane Howard has been generous with his time, lending support to numerous Aboriginal, environmental and human rights campaigns across Australia. In 1993, Irish songstress Mary Black, had a top 5 Irish single with her version of, ‘Flesh and Blood’. He has also produced tracks for Mary Black and Irish sean nos singer, Mossie Scanlon. He has produced albums for Archie Roach, The Pigram Brothers, Joe Geia and Jimmy Chi, among others. His songs travel and he does too. He journeys frequently to Ireland. He’s toured Ireland, Australia, Holland and the US with Mary Black & her band. He was a special guest of the Guinness Tour of Irish Music in 1997, travelling with Ronnie Drew. He was a guest performer for the Australian reception to welcome Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta Menchu. With Joe Geia, he performed for Nelson Mandela's Australian visit to Melbourne in 2000.
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. He was named Artist of the Year for the 2005 Port Fairy Folk Festival. In announcing the award, Festival Director, Jamie McKew said, "Shane Howard bridges the land between poet and song-writer; between prophet and singer; even between white fellas and indigenous artists". He performed Solid Rock at the 2006 Australian Football League Grand Final to an audience of 90,000 people, and again at the 2007 Australian Football League, 'Dreamtime at the 'G' match. In 2006 he performed at ‘Downunder- New York’ with Colin Hay and Austen Tayshus at Irving Plaza, New York. He was a special guest for Senator Bob Brown's 25th Anniversary of the saving of the Franklin River, in July 2008. As a founding member of ‘The Black Arm Band’, Howard has performed with the ensemble from 2006 to the present, for concerts at WOMADUK, The Sydney International Festival, Festival of Perth, Brisbane Arts Festival, Darwin Festival, WOMADelaide, The Melbourne International Arts Festival, Remote & Community Touring and the London International Festival of Theatre.
He is currently touring with his 11th solo album, Goanna Dreaming, recorded in Tucson, Arizona, with expatriate Australian, Kerryn Tolhurst.He has just released a book of lyrics and a childrens book of the song, Solid Rock, illustrated with images by the young people from the communities of Mutitjulu, Imanpa & Kaltakatjara, that all have strong connections to Uluru.
‘While they are deeply evocative of Australia, a "spirit of place", Howard¹s songs have a global reach. … there are few contemporary musicians who have made such an enduring impact…. we need the music of people like Shane Howard to feed our souls and keep our hopes alive for a better future.
Aziz Choudry, Montreal
"He sounds as though he has drunk deeply from the same fountain that gave the world Henry Lawson, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan".
Bruce Elder - Sydney Morning Herald
For more information visit his website http://www.shanehoward.com.au and his MySpace page http://www.myspace.com/shanehowardgoanna to hear samples of his music.