Do away with the stereotypes and what you think you know about Australian Aboriginal culture, because the indigenous people of Australia are as diverse as they are unique, as impressive as they are ancient, and the music by these artists is something that you’re going to want to listen to on repeat.
If your knowledge of indigenous musicians only extends as far as traditional tunes and didgeridoos, then be prepared to be bowled over by this talented crew.
With slight strums of the guitar and a sweetly soft tone to her voice, Thelma Plum’s music lulls listeners into a carefree summer vibe state. Plum is both a singer and a songwriter from Brisbane and first came on the national music scene when she won Triple J’s Unearthed competition in 2012.
Jimblah is a musician from Adelaide who originally hails from the Larrakia Nation in the Northern Territory. He’s won a string of accolades, including the inaugural Hilltop Hoods Initiative in 2007, and has also featured as a Triple J Unearthed artist. He’s one of the big emerging names in Australian hip-hop with powerful lyrics matched with an imposing voice.
If you’re a fan of Australian hip-hop, then you can’t go past Briggs. He’s from the Yorta Yorta tribe and regularly pays homage to his Aboriginality in his music and in his life. During an interview with G&T magazine, he reportedly commented on a tattoo of his tribe’s name on his forearm, saying, “So every time I rock the mic people know I’m representing.”
We were first bowled over by Jessica Mauboy’s talents way back in 2006 when she auditioned for Australian Idol in Alice Springs. Since then, it was decided that she had that wow factor and she’s been representing Australia and her indigenous roots on the stage and screen ever since. She’s starred in the film, The Sapphires, and has also performed at the 2014 Eurovision contest and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.
Playing a beautiful blend of rock and roll, jazz and blues, Dan Sultan sometimes sings about his connection with the country. His mother was from the Arrernte and Gurindji people, while his father is an Irish lawyer who reportedly worked for the Aboriginal Legal Service.
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
There’s nothing quite like the emotive work of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. Born blind, Gurrumul uses the power of his voice to sing about his cultural identity, connection to his country and his ancestral past, shedding light on the enigma that is indigenous culture. He is a member of the Gumatj clan from the tropical coast of North East Arnhem Land.
Easy listening tunes are what Busby Marou does best. Throw in some ukuleles and a mandolin and you’ve got gorgeous music ready to be listened to. The band is made up of two pals from Rockhampton, Thomas Busby and Jeremy Marou, hence the band name. Marou is of Torres Strait Islander decent and before his foray into the music world, he was a liaison officer between community elders and land developers. “It was really cool,” he told the Australian. “I looked after the elders. If [miners] were coming in to explore an area they would consult us to ask how to approach the elders.”
The Last Kinection
This group hails from Newcastle in New South Wales and has caught the attention of the music industry because of its diverse musicality and hip-hop rhythms. They first got together in 2006 and have since won awards, including Deadly Awards for Best Album of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in R ‘n’ B and Hip-Hop.
Who are your favourite indigenous musicians? We want to know so we can put them on our playlist. Share your favourites in the comments section below.