Helen Mottee

Helen Mottee

 Wauchope, New South Wales, AUS
SoloFolkSinger/Songwriter

I am a singer/ songwriter focusing on social concern and justice issues. My style ranges from contemporary ballad to folk, blues, jazz & gospel. I write and sing about real people and experiences and my travels have taken me from Zimbabwe to Afghanistan. For me, music is not only art, but advocacy.

Biography

Helen is a songwriter/singer/ pianist from
Australia. She has worked as a professional musician throughout Australia and New Zealand and also in Zimbabwe.
During recent years her focus in song writing has been on social justice and humanitarian issues, and she has had the privilege of visiting many countries, and aid projects within those countries, which have influenced her writing.
One of the most significant trips Helen has made was to Afghanistan in November 2005. She was privileged to visit outlying rural areas with medical teams and experience the realities of the endless war zone this country has become.
This has influenced not only her song writing, but her desire to be more involved in the sending of aid.
Helen also has a deep passion to speak out for refugees and internally displaced persons, particularly in Burma and North Korea.
Helen’s year in Zimbabwe inspired her first album, “They Told Me This Is Africa”
The title song won the contemporary ballad category in the Australian Songwriter’s Association Annual song writing contest in 2001.
Another of her songs won the Sacred Song category and she was named the Songwriter of the Year.
The following year, “They Told Me This Is Africa” won the Rhythm and Blues category of the Australian Musicoz National contest.
Helen’s third album, “The Cry” was released in 2005 and reflects the issues and concerns she was confronted with in trips undertaken throughout Asia.
Her song “Don’t Tell Me” has been recorded by one of Australia’s premier youth choirs and in 2004 made it into the Top 5 in its category in the Musicoz annual awards.
Helen is passionate about sharing the stories and songs that have come out of having her eyes and heart opened to the needs of so many in this world.
Helen’s 4th album, “Letters from the 5th Estate” was launched in Hong Kong on June 20th, 2008 on World Refugee Day, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR).
Helen is now working on her second gospel album.
Influences in music are Keith Green, Chris Rice, Carole King, Michael Card, Blossom Dearie, World music artists.
You can visit Helen’s website,
www.helenmottee.com
and also hear some of her songs on Jango and SoundCloud.

Lyrics

Recipe

Written By: Helen Mottee

RECIPE

MAKE SOME PORRIDGE
MAKE SOME CAKE
MAKE A CHILD SOLDIER

TAKE A BOY OF SEVEN
TAKE A BOY ALIVE
GIVE HIM AN AK47
TELL HIM IF HE’S TO SURVIVE
HE MUST KILL HIS BABY BROTHER
SHOOT HIS MUM AND DAD
SO THEN HE’LL BE A REAL MAN
NOT JUST A VILLAGE LAD

WE’LL MAKE SOME PORRIDGE
WE’LL MAKE SOME CAKE
WE’LL MAKE A CHILD SOLDIER
TEACH HIM HOW TO HATE

TAKE A GIRL OF SEVEN
TAKE A GIRL ALIVE
SHE’LL MARCH WITH THIS ARMY
TILL SHE’S FIT TO BE A BRIDE
WAIT TILL SHE’S ELEVEN
MAYBE WAIT TILL SHE’S THIRTEEN
THEN GIVE HER TO A SOLDIER
NO ONE WILL HEAR HER SCREAM

WE’LL MAKE SOME PORRIDGE
WE’LL MAKE SOME CAKE
WE’LL MAKE A CHILD SOLDIER
TEACH HIM HOW TO HATE

WE’LL MAKE SOME PORRIDGE
WE’LL MAKE SOME TEA
WE’LL MAKE A CHILD SOLDIER
TAKE HIM ON A KILLING SPREE

SEE A WORLD TORMENTED
SEE A WORLD THAT’S FREE
SEE THE 8% WHO HAVE IT ALL
HEY, YOU KNOW THAT’S ME
SEE POLITICAL NECESSITY
SEE ECONOMIC GAIN
300,000 CHILD SOLDIERS
WHO DO NOT HAVE A NAME

WE’LL MAKE SOME PORRIDGE…….

SEE A WORLD TORMENTED
SEE A WORLD THAT’S FREE
SEE THE 8% WHO HAVE IT ALL
YOU KNOW THAT’S ME
SEE POLITICAL CHESS PLAY
BIRTHED UPON A GUN
300,000 CHILD SOLDIERS
WHO HAVE NOWHERE TO RUN

WE’LL MAKE SOME PORRIDGE……..

Down In Dushanbe

Written By: Helen Mottee

DOWN IN DUSHANBE

JUST A CHILD TIED TO A CHAIR
WHO’LL NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY
JUST A BABY IN A COT LEFT TO SLOWLY ROT AWAY
JUST A ROOM WHERE STRANGERS COME
THAT’S BRIGHT AND FRESH AND CLEAN
JUST A FACADE BEHIND WHOSE WALLS TEN THOUSAND CHILDREN SCREAM

DOWN IN DUSHANBE
I STOPPED TO WATCH SOME CHILDREN PLAY
FOR EVERY CHILD WHO SMILED AT ME
IS A CHILD THE WORLD’S FORGOTTEN
A CHILD THE WORLD WILL NEVER SEE

JUST A LAW THAT NEVER WAS
THAT HAUNTS A DESPERATE LAND
JUST ANOTHER LIFE ARRANGED
A COUSIN TAKES THE WEDDING BAND
JUST ANOTHER GIRL OUT ON THE STREET TONIGHT
JUST A MAN WHO TAKES A SECOND WIFE

DOWN IN DUSHANBE
I STOPPED TO WATCH SOME CHILDREN PLAY
FOR EVERY CHILD WHO SMILED AT ME
IS A CHILD THE WORLD’S FORGOTTEN
A CHILD THE WORLD WILL NEVER SEE

Our Song

Written By: Helen Mottee

our song

from the mountain
from the desert
from the valley will ring
from our nation
from our village
from the rooftops we’ll sing

we’ll sing to heaven
we’ll sing to all men
the road to peace begins with me
we’ll sing this one song
we will hold on
until our people are set free

from the prisons
from the playground
from behind the wire will come
the sound of children’s
tears and laughter
rising above the landmine and the gun

They Told Me This Is Africa

Written By: Helen Mottee

THEY TOLD ME THIS IS AFRICA

AFRICAN SUN POURED DOWN LIKE RAIN UPON MY SKIN
THE DOOR TO CHANGE KICKED OPEN
AND I STUMBLED IN
TRADED IN THE FREEWAY
AND THE SMELL OF THE SALT-SEA AIR
LEARNT TO WALK THE RED-DUST ROAD OVER THERE

AND THEY TOLD ME THIS IS AFRICA
THEY TOLD ME THIS IS AFRICA
AND THEY SAID THAT THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE
LIMOUSINES AND BEGGARS
CRIES OF PEACE BEHIND THE POINTED GUN

AFRICAN SONG FLOWED DOWN IN A RIVER OF HOPE AND TEARS
AND THE CHILDREN SMILED AT ME
SHELTERED BY THEIR YEARS
AND THE PEOPLE WROTE THEIR DREAMS
IN SHADES OF BLACK AND WHITE
NO BERLIN WALL WAS MADE TO FALL
ACROSS THE LINE BETWEEN DAY AND NIGHT

AND THEY TOLD ME THIS IS AFRICA
THEY TOLD ME THIS IS AFRICA
AND THEY SAID THAT THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE
LIMOUSINES AND BEGGARS
CRIES OF PEACE BEHIND THE POINTED GUN

AFRICAN JOURNEY BROUGHT ME HALF A UNIVERSE AWAY
AS I STEPPED INTO THE NIGHT IN MUMBAI
A THOUSAND FINGERS CLUTCHED MY HANDS
AND BEGGED TO WALK WITH ME
SOMEONE THREW SOME PENNIES DOWN AND SAID
“HEY, JUST LET IT BE’

AND THEY TOLD ME THIS IS INDIA
THEY TOLD ME THIS IS INDIA
AND THEY SAID THAT THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE
LIMOUSINES AND BEGGARS
CRIES OF PEACE BEHIND THE POINTED GUN

AFRICAN SUN CAME DOWN, BLED ITS COLORS ACROSS THE SKY
I LOOKED OUT ON THE RED DUST ROAD
AND SAID GOODBYE
THEN THE SILENCE THAT HELD ME
WAS BROKEN LIKE A TOY
AS A CITY FELL IN FLAMES
AND THE GUN REACHED FOR THE BOY

AND THEY TOLD ME THIS IS BOSNIA
THEY TOLD ME THIS IS BOSNIA
AND THEY SAID THAT THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE
LIMOUSINES AND BEGGARS
CRIES OF PEACE BEHIND THE POINTED GUN

How Come It's Ok

Written By: Helen Mottee

how come it’s ok
for us to turn away
shrug our shoulders cause it’s just another TIA
how come it’s ok
for us to hope that things will change one day
then turn the channel in our heads cause pain’s passé

and the rivers run red across Sudan
the sky’s raining lead in Afghanistan

how come it’s ok
for girls and boys to not know how to play
cause they’re smashing rocks on roadsides all day

how come it’s ok
for people to be bought and sold as slaves
and hey, what can I do anyway

and the rivers run red across Sudan
the sky’s raining lead in Afghanistan
girls in Mai Sot are being trafficked tonight
beaten by their pimps in a dark room out of sight
women beg for mercy in the burning sun
there are ways of waging war without wielding a gun
people are labelled and somehow we agree
they’ve all done something wrong
cause they’ve got HIV

how come it’s ok
for rape to be a tool of war
in our enlightened day
how come it’s ok
for us to save a tree
but turn our hearts on 40 million refugees


and the rivers run red across Sudan
the sky’s raining lead in Afghanistan
girls in Mai Sot are being trafficked tonight
beaten by their pimps in a dark room out of sight
women beg for mercy in the burning sun
there are ways of waging war without wielding a gun
people are labelled and somehow we agree
they’ve all done something wrong
cause they’ve got HIV

how come it’s ok
how come it’s alright
for us to turn away
push people out of sight
how come it’s ok
to be horrified
for a moment and
so believe we’ve tried
how come it’s ok
when we’re all at war
to destroy a woman’s body for the cause we’re fighting for

and the rivers run red across Sudan
the sky’s raining lead in Afghanistan
people are labelled and somehow we agree
they’ve all done something wrong
cause they’ve got HIV

how come it’s ok
for billions to be outcast
cause they’re trapped by what indifference doesn’t say

Will You

Written By: Helen Mottee

Will you still put your arms around me
Will you share my cup
Will you still want to be my friend
Even though I have HIV

Will you let your child still play
With my little girl today
Or will their games and laughter end
Because she has HIV

When all the others turn away
Will it be the same between us
As yesterday
When others ask me – how and why
Will I see peace in your eyes

Will you still share yourself with me
and seek to hear my heart
or will I feel I must pretend
‘cause I have HIV

When I get sick will it still be
How it’s always been - us and we
Will you have the time to spend
Even though I have HIV

When all the others turn away
Will it be the same between us
As yesterday
When others ask me how and why
Will I see peace in your eyes

Will you still put your arms around me
and seek to hear my heart
Will you still want to be my friend
Even though I have HIV

Don't Tell Me

Written By: Helen Mottee

She reclines on her success
Breathes in the harbour views
Glances through the paper
So she can discuss the news
And the world's in trouble everywhere
But she knows she can't afford to care

She says:
Don't tell me 'bout the Burma refugees
Just let me enjoy the harbour breeze
Don't tell me 'bout the orphan babies in Chiang Mai
It's too nice a day for me to cry
Don't wanna know what's going on in Afghanistan
I'm a woman in Australia
I'll never meet the Taliban
Life is good for me
I don't wanna hear, I don't wanna see.

His is another empire grand
With all his labour carved on sand
Questions settling on his days like dust
His mortality beckoning the moth and rust
And the world's in trouble everywhere
But the world's just not this man's affair

He says:
Don't tell me 'bout the Burma refugees
Let me enjoy my gin and tonic please
Don't tell me 'bout Manila and the street kids' eyes
Cause all that's on my mind is the next pay rise
Don't wanna know what's going on in Afghanistan
And I thank God I'll never meet the Taliban
Life is good for me
I don't wanna hear, I don't wanna see

This life's been good to me
And the years their tale have spun
I am blessed and I am free
Never had to stare down the barrel of a gun
But my world's in trouble everywhere
Can I really say that I don't care

Cause now I've met the Burma refugees
And I need to do more than get on my knees
I've held an orphan baby in Chiang Mai
And walked away trying not to cry
CNN took me to Afghanistan
And I saw it through the eyes of the Taliban
My life is asking me
Do you wanna hear?
Do you wanna see

Do You

Written By: Helen Mottee

Do you know what it’s like to be on the run?
Do you know?
What it is to leave it all behind
At the point of a gun
Do you know?

Do you know how it feels to lose your family?
Do you know?
What it is to have been free
But now to be
A refugee

I’m a refugee
I have no choice
I have no voice
I’m a refugee
I have no place
I have no face
Would someone look at me?

Do you know what it is to have no rights?
Do you know?
What it is to keep on hiding
Through an endless night
Do you know?

Do you know how it feels to hear a mine explode?
Do you know?
What it is to see your child blown apart
On this going nowhere road.
Do you know?

I’m a refugee
I have no choice
I have no voice
I’m a refugee
I have no place
I have no face
Would someone look at me?

Discography

Helen has released 4 albums: "They Told Me This Is Africa", "Crosswind", "The Cry" and "Letters from the 5th Estate".
"Letters from the 5th Estate", was launched in Hong Kong, in partnership with the UNHCR, in a concert on June 20th, 2008 on World Refugee Day.
Several of Helen's songs from all 4 albums have radio play in Australia and the USA.
The most widely played song to date is 'They Told Me This Is Africa', the title song of the first album.
You can hear some of Helen's songs on Jango and SoundCloud.

Set List

I usually perform 2 sets of around 35-40 minutes each, with break in between.
As well as my own originals, which focus on social justice and humanitarian issues, I have a repertoire ranging from 1940's jazz through to Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Eva Cassidy.