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The Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle
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The Seekers' 50th Anniversary: I'll Never Find Another You

Judith Durham/The Seekers

William Van Ornum - published on 08/10/14

I have always found, and find more and more as the years go by, that another dimension kicks in for me when I sing songs with the inspiration of the Lord. A standout experience for me happened more than 50 years ago, when I sang “The Lord’s Prayer” solo and almost a cappella at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne. Six years later I sang it solo again at the Myer Music Bowl, as part of their annual “Carols By Candlight” telecast.

What are some of your favorite Gospel songs?

I follow a spiritual path that embraces universal spirituality and truth, without focusing on one particular religion, even though many of the songs I sing are inspired by Jesus and the Christian message.

Since I joined The Seekers, many more gospel songs have become part of my recorded repertoire, including “This Little Light Of Mine,” “You Can Tell The World,” “Well, Well, Well,” “Kumbaya,” “We’re Movin’ On,” “This Train,” “When The Stars Begin To Fall,” “Little Moses” and “Children Go Where I Send You.”  

I watched a Christmas concert I found on YouTube…how many years did you offer these?

You mean the ‘Carols In The Domain’ broadcast from Domain Gardens in Sydne? It has been an annual event since 1983 and it is in aid of the Salvation Army.  I’ve performed there twice, 20 years apart. I first appeared in 1990, performing “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and “Mary’s Boy Child,” and in 2010, I performed “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “Morningtown Ride To Christmas.”  

What have the reactions been to the 50th anniversary tour and receiving an honor and letter from the Queen?

Our ‘Golden Jubilee’ has been a truly joyous celebration of The Seekers music, and has given us the chance to share and bond with our fans, many of whom flew from all over the world to see us in concert in Australia or the United Kingdom.

In many cases, it is a real family experience, with fans as young as three and as old as 93 joining in the celebration.

We were thrilled to receive a letter from Her Majesty the Queen, congratulating us on our 50th anniversary and wishing us well with our tours.

Is there a theme in all of your charity work?

The biggest motivation for me to support a charity stemmed from my husband’s terminal illness. He’d received the shocking diagnosis of the deadly creeping paralysis “motor neuron disease” (known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ASL or Lou Gehrig’s disease] in America). I was asked by MND Australia to become National Patron, as the charity’s believed that it could help raise much needed awareness. This opened my eyes to the desperate need of umpteen charities, all of whom would be so grateful for even a mention in the media. Without a doubt, in the case of MND, my position presented opportunities for door collections at many concerts around the world that I gave in my solo capacity as well as with The Seekers.  

More and more, I am realising how difficult it is to raise awareness about the suffering endured by people, from so many walks of life, whose plight may remain forever without a voice. I always try to mention these causes whenever I can, and indeed I have written a poem that focuses on giving.

Part of it reads, “As we breathe ten thousand breaths from dawn to dusk each day, In return let’s do our best to give in every way. … When selflessly we show support in any way we can, That’s the way to play important parts in God’s big plan.”*

In the original “Morningtown Ride” train video … are those children from an orphanage?

That clip is from The Seekers’ first big Australian television special, ‘The Seekers at Home,’ in 1966. We sang the song on Victoria’s historic steam train, Puffing Billy, in Belgrave in the Dandenong Ranges. The young children filmed with us were from the St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage.

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