A photo of Warren Williams

Warren Williams

Hermannsburg, Northern Territory, Australia


I remember going through alcohol problems, laying in the hospital. I heard a footstep. And then another footstep. It was a two-story hospital. I heard the footsteps come in, get into the elevator; I heard the elevator come up, the elevator opened. I was lying on my bed listening to it. And I heard him walk to my door and stop. I asked him to come in. And the fellow at the door said, ‘No I can’t come in because there’s a Bible by the dresser. Can you get rid of it?’ He stood at the door until I got rid of the Bible.

Then all of a sudden these kids came and they got rid of that fellow. But he didn’t go far—he just went to the door. I was in so much pain. So much pain. I had alcohol poisoning. After the kids, another fellow came up. I don’t know where he came from, but he sat right next to me and said, ‘Tomorrow you will be alright.’

‘How do you know tomorrow I will be alright?’ 

‘Don’t worry, you’ll be alright.’

He went and I slept again. So much pain. I was in so much pain and then, I slept.

The next morning, I got woken up by the sun shining through a crack in the wall and it hit me right on my forehead. After that day—14 years ago—I stopped drinking. And that thing hit me on the head. And the good man fixed it that day.

Daniel’s Reflection

One of the great gifts of Portraits in Faith for me has been my experiences with Australian Aboriginal elders and getting to know the beauty of their culture and ways. I am continually struck by the way that spirituality is part of everything in indigenous cultures. Meeting Warren Williams, his wife Heidi, and his father, Gus Williams, was truly a highlight of my immersion into Australian Aboriginal culture. Warren and his father Gus are the only father-son pair who have won Australia’s Country Music Awards Centenary Medal. When I was there, I was treated to a beautiful session of singing in Gus’s home.

Warren’s story, which he had never shared before this interview, reveals his painful journey with alcoholism and how he was healed after a visit with both a dark spirit and a Divine spirit as he lay dying in a hospital. Warren’s father passed away in 2010 so this interview holds a special place as I remember him and honor his legacy. What a surprise it was to me, a Jewish kid from Atlanta, Georgia, that the Williams family always ended every concert with the song, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” It is a real honor to have spoken with Warren and to have experienced his family and their love of music.   Note:  It is the tradition to let members of the Aboriginal community to know that deceased relatives are depicted in an image or video.  Warren has given his permission for us to share Gus' image which is common especially for people who were public figures.

Back to the interview