By Erin Grant
October is a busy month for awareness, it is simultaneously Mental Health Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness month and Australian Music Month. When you think of Australian music, what comes to mind? I bet it is Men At Work’s ‘Down Under’, isn’t it? Or maybe Paul Kelly? The Whitlams? Jimmy Barnes?
These are all fine artists ( except Men at Work- ‘Down Under’ is the bane of every Australian, especially if they have to interact with anyone foreign). They are part of classic Australian rock and are close to many hearts. But there’s one thing that these people have in common- they are all white Australians. We need to ask ourselves; when we think ‘Aus Music’ are we ignoring a huge section of Australian citizens. Perhaps the most important Australian citizens, as they have been here the longest- Indigenous Australians.
Black Australia has a unique musical voice. From the traditional music that they use to celebrate emotions and keep their spirit alive, to young contemporary artists keeping their people’s experience in the public eye and fighting continuously for Aboriginal rights. Rights that the country still hasn’t given to its first Australians.
So, to celebrate Australian Music Month and turn the conversation aways from white Australia; I’d like to share with you some Aboriginal artists who are making music today, important, Australian music.
Emily Wurramurra is a Warnindhilyagwa woman originally from Groote Eylandt, NT who resides in Brisbane. Singing in both English and her traditional language, Anindilyakwa, Emily brings the soul of her island upbringing and her people into her music.
Emily Wurramura’s music is a mix of soft folk style with jazz undertones. Her sultry voice and resonates deep within the soul. Also shows the absolute beauty of indigenous traditional languages.
A.B Original is a collaboration between rapper Briggs and producer Trials. The duo produces rap music with messages of current issues with lyrics that confront Australians- such as their outrage fueled single ‘January 26.’
A.B Orginal are one of the biggest names in Australian contemporary Indigenous music and has resonated with fans of all genres, not just rap. Briggs founded Bad Apple Records which fucsisng on representing up and coming Aboriginal music artists.
Another collaborative effort, Yulugi is made up of musician, performer and cultural educator Gumaroy Newman and composer Keyna Wilkins. Yulugi- named for the word for ‘play’ in Gamilaroi- fuses together music from Didgeridoo, flute and piano. The group takes instrumental, vaguely classical music to a deeper, culturally significant level.
Their music transports us to an Australia of dreaming and spiritual awakening. This relatively new band (founded earlier this year), is one of the most interesting musical mixture to come out of 2019.
Thelma plum uses her mesmerising singing voice to sing about love, modern life and her identity as a black Aboriginal woman. Her songs are catchy and poignant, you can easily get lost in her music while soaking up her indigenous experience and powerful message.
Talented from a young age, Thelma won triple j’s unearthed National Indigenous Music Award as a high schooler Originally from Delungra, NSW Thelma plum’s Sydney residence is hardly occupied as she tours around the world.