NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of First Nations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) people. Due to Covid 19 the week had to be delayed until now.
NAIDOC originally stood for 'National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee'. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself. Find out more about the origins and history of NAIDOC Week.
Dance and music has been an integral part of life in First Nations culture for over 55, 000 years. Songs are used for every occasion including seasons, myths and Dreamtime legends, songs of ancestors and for social gatherings. Many contemporary artists blend their traditional language and instruments with Western musical styles.
Discover some of the finest new and emerging First Nations musicians you should be listening to:
Originally from Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory, Emily grew up surrounded by her uncle’s singing. Realising the women in her community rarely sung in public Emily soon wanted to empower not only members of her community but also young indigenous women to find their voice. Emily sings original music in both English and Anindilyakwa and has been nominated for an Aria Award and won 3 x Queensland Music Awards. She was also the Triple J unearthed winner in 2016. Her debut album Milyakburra is out now.
Growing up in remote Arnhem Land, regional New South Wales, Sydney and Perth, Ziggy addresses the silenced injustices of First Nations Australia as well as other social issues. Ziggy is a rapper and public speaker and was Triple J’s Artist to watch in 2017. Watch Ziggy’s Black Thoughts : A collection of Voices from Gadigal Land performance at the Sydney Opera House.
Born in Brisbane, Luke is a descendant of the Meriam peoples of the eastern Torres Strait Islands. Due to a leg injury suffered in his youth, Luke picked up his dad’s guitar and taught himself how to play. Since then he’s performed in a number of bands and is currently a member of Headland, an experimental atmospheric/psychedelic band.
He’s currently working on new solo music and released his first single “Older Then” in September 2019.
Thelma is a Gamilaraay woman born in Delungra New South Wales but moved to Brisbane to attend Music Industry College. Her debut album Better in Blak received six nominations at the 2019 ARIA Music Awards.
18 year old Mi-Kaisha is a proud Murri woman, with Tongan roots and is part of the Darumbal community in Queensland. Born and raised in Sydney she grew up surrounded by music and now uses song writing as a storytelling platform. She is currently undertaking a four-year degree at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. You can listen to her tracks on Soundcloud or via her website.
Danzal Baker, professionally known as Baker Boy, is a rapper, dancer, artist and actor. A Yolngu man from Milingimbi in North East Arnhem Land, Baker Boy raps and sings in both English and his traditional language, Yoinju Matha. To date he has been Young Australian of the Year in 2019, nominated for several categories in the 2019 ARIA Awards, won National Indigenous Music Awards and been voted into the Triple J Hottest 100. Follow Baker Boy on social media.
Find more First Nations music on Freegal, free with your library card. Get unlimited music streaming and download five tracks per week with Freegal. Download from the Sony catalogue and thousands of smaller labels. Sign in with your library member number and password. Need help setting up your device for Freegal? View this video tutorial.
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Read these titles
- Gurrumul : his life in music by Robert Hillman
- Song spirals : sharing women’s wisdom of country through songlines by Laklak Burarrwana
- Homeland calling
- Things I carry around by Troy Cassar-Daley
Stream these music documentaries via Beamafilm:
Celebrated by audiences at home and abroad, indigenous artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu was one of the most important and acclaimed voices to ever come out of Australia. Blind from birth, he found purpose and meaning through songs and music inspired by his community and country on Elcho Island in far North East Arnhem Land. Living a traditional Yolngu life, his breakthrough album ‘Gurrumul’ brought him to a crossroads as audiences and artists around the world began to embrace his music.
The Song Keepers
Four generations of song women that make up The Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir, go on a historic journey to take back the hymns that were given to their ancestors by the German missionaries but in their own ancient First Nations languages and on their own terms. Come on an adventure as the unlikeliest band on earth goes on tour... to the other side of the world!
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