In the Central Australian Warlpiri community of Yuendumu, efforts to document and revitalise Warlpiri songs take place in an era where there are fewer contexts for the performance of associated ceremonies, consequently increasing the endangerment of this unique intellectual tradition. This paper outlines recent initiatives providing contexts for Warlpiri people to engage with archived recordings through repatriation based on-country at the Warlpiri Media Archive. We examine the community’s perspectives and responses to legacy recordings made in the 1950s and 1960s, which captured a particular way of singing that has undergone significant change over the last few decades, even though some of the people who were recorded are still alive today. The individuals who have so far engaged with these archived recordings have drawn out unique perspectives on their contents, including insights into language change, shifting musical structures and the markedly different performance contexts in which these songs were once performed. These examples illustrate that repatriation efforts are much more than a simple process of ‘return’ of cultural materials to their communities of origin—re-engagement with legacy recordings influences performance traditions in their contemporary contexts.