I love good tunes, particularly when they come from local acts.
And with so many awesome First Nation artists making incredible music (and with the spotlight finally on the welfare and treatment of our First Nation people), we thought this would be an opportune time to showcase some of our favourite Indigenous artists that, if you haven’t already got on high rotation, you will have by the time you reach the bottom of the page. Let’s check ’em out.
Singing in both English and Anindilyakwa, Emily Wurramara was raised on a steady diet of traditional Indigenous music by her uncles while growing up in Groote Eylandt in the NT. Quickly developing her own voice, she began writing and recording her own music, leading to her 2016 surprise hit six-track EP Black Smoke. Writing personal and emotive music about her culture and heritage, Wurramara’s warm, soothing vocals float over the indie-pop meets blues and roots production of her songs and will leave a warm feeling in your heart.
Ziggy Ramo is the Australian Ab-Soul. Not only do the two share a similar cadence, but both rhyme about important issues impacting Black culture. Unflinching in his portrayal of life as a Black man in Australia and the injustice he and his people have experienced, the rapper’s lyrics hit you like a one-two punch and leave you dazed and wondering how things got so bad. Ramo cemented his prowess with the surprise release of Black Thoughts, a 16-track meditation on race and culture he wrote five years ago and has finally decided to release. The album is a powerful piece of art addressing everything from Australia Day to blackface and the incarceration of Indigenous Australians. No album is more relevant today than Black Thoughts.
Pitjantjatjara and Torres Strait Islander Miiesha is set to become one of Australia’s brightest stars in the coming years. Having been singing for her family and community since the age of eight, the talented 20-year-old just dropped her debut album Nayaanringu to rave reviews. The collection of nine songs are personal tales about her childhood, family and life as an Indigenous Australian, with each song connected by words of wisdom from her late Grandmother.
Triple J gets a (deservedly) bad rap these days, but every now and then they’ree responsible for unearthing great Australian talent. Case in point: Baker Boy. Originally hailing from the Northern Territory, the 2019 Young Australian Of The Year is an exceptional talent who merges hip-hop with traditional Indigenous sounds. Not only does he spread a message of positivity and Black pride, but his live performances are off the charts, combining playful raps (in both English and his native tongue Yolngu) with choreographed dancing and palpable chaotic energy.
A veteran of the Aussie music scene at the age of just 25, Thelma Plum finally got the plaudits she deserved last year with the release of her long-awaited debut Better In Blak. Pairing Plum’s unique vocals with upbeat indie instrumentation on songs about racism, sexism and lost love, the album is a brilliant portrait of a young Black woman making her way in a white-dominated world. Her recent cover of Powderfinger’s ‘These Days’ is also well worth a listen and another tremendous showcase of her vocal abilities.
The release of his 2018 debut album, Melting Conceptually, saw Sydneysider Kuren getting airplay on Triple J and playing Splendour In The Grass, but instead of embracing fame, the creative force stepped back and took a year out to hone his craft. The result is sophomore album HOLY WAVE, a mesmerising collection of songs encapsulating electronic, trap and hip-hop beats along with Kuren’s emotive and passionate rhymes. The kids will be all over this one.