Marlene Cummins the only foremost practising aboriginal female blues artist currently on the Australian blues scene. Marlene hails from Queensland.She grew up around very poor oppressive conditions in the fifties when the infamous so-called "Aboriginal Protection Act" was well in force. Her family had been subjected to these conditions.
Marlene comes from a large family of ten living on fringe camps in outback Queensland.(two youngest brothers lived with Aunt Evelyn & Uncle Ted Andrews in Brisbane).
The family camped out in isolation from the towns and fringe camps because her father being a hard worker, worked for the rich landowners doing jobs such as ringbarking, picking peanuts, stick-picking, station-hand. He was probably one of the first Aboriginal men who mastered driving the large Caterpillar Grader when he worked for the Main Roads Dept for some part of his work career meant camping along the way in the bush for Marlene as a child. Marlene would sometimes wander off into the bush unbeknown to her family and find the largest dead log for her "stage" and perform on her own.
Marlene's father was also an extremely talented musician, through her hardship as a child she grew up constantly listening to her father's multi-talented musical abilities. He played trumpet, guitar, steel guitar(pedal & lap). Her father Darcy Cummins played trumpet in the Winton Town Band, Winton is a small town in outback central Queensland where the family lived on a fringe-camp with other Aboriginal people, the fringe-camp was called "Boomerang Alley" Darcy and other Aboriginal musicians e.g.; Ducko Fraser, Marlene mentions, would find solace in jamming in those oppressive times.
At that time he also had his own band called the "Ravens".Marlene says her strongest influence naturally comes from her Father Darcy.
Later in life, Darcy moved with his children to the city where Darcy was instrumental in bringing about many Aboriginal dances (Opal Dances)that were organised as a place of entertainment . He played in a band called the "Opals". Opal was an early Aboriginal organisation Darcy was involved with which stood for 'One People Australia League'. Darcy was instrumental in teaching many young people music in his senior years and he passed away in Nov 1987.Marlene is well renown for her recording 'Pension Day Blues' of which a familiar line cries out "he only loves me pension day."(click here to see sample of video clip)
Marlene has also been involved in musical productions as an actress / commedienne.