• AB Original, Kahl Wallis, Emma Donovan, rising star Stanley “Gawurra” Gaykamangu and emerging artists Rayella, Chris Tamwoy and David Spry are the first names announced to perform at this year’s National Indigenous Music Awards.

    2016 is a year of significant milestones for Indigenous people including the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk off, the 40th anniversary of the Land Rights Act, 30 years since the release of Yothu Yindi’s Tribal Voice and 25 years since Treaty raced to the top of the charts. You can be certain this year’s line up of artists will deliver potent performances featuring both iconic and contemporary protest songs.
    “This year’s NIMA’s coinciding with these important anniversaries, will again shine a light on Indigenous music across the country. Music has stoked the fire and been a voice of protest for many years and what better way to recognize a year of milestones, than celebrating the strong history of Indigenous protest songs”, says Mark Smith – Executive Director of MusicNT & NIMAs.

    Additional news is that NIMA will align with two iconic annual Indigenous events on the same weekend to cast a spotlight on the Indigenous Visual Art and Music world in Darwin. These premiere national showcases will provide audiences with an unprecedented experience of cultural excellence. The National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMA), the 33rd Telstra National Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA) and the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF)will be held on the same weekend with NATSIAA on Friday 5th, NIMA on Saturday 6th and DAAF between 5-7th of August. These three key events held annually in Darwin for years have combined their efforts in order to provide an Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander showcase like no other.

    Key Dates

    • Nominations Close: Friday 17th June 2016
    • NIMA Awards Ceremony & Concert: Saturday 6th August, Darwin Amphitheatre, NT.

    The National Indigenous Music Awards are presented by MusicNT in partnership with the NT Government.


    AB Original
    A.B. Original is the collaboration between Briggs (Album of the Year recipient at the National Indigenous Music Awards 2015) and Trials, ARIA Award winning producer for Drapht, Illy, Hilltop Hoods, Seth Sentry and The Funkoars among others. A.B. Original was born when the two artists were invited to perform at triple j’s 40 year celebration, Beat The Drum, in January 2015. They produced a short but powerful set which also included the special performance of ‘The Hunt’, a collaboration with Gurrummul performed earlier on triple j’s live at the wireless. They write songs in the spirit of N.W.A and West Side Connection, while lyrically bringing attention to issues closer to home. Respectively coming from the Yorta Yorta and Ngarrindjeri tribes, Briggs and Trials are socially conscious outspoken Indigenous artists. They bring a new voice to Australian hip hop as A.B. Original. Their debut album will be released later this year via Hilltop Hoods’ label Golden Era Records and Bad Apples Music, Australia’s first Indigenous hip hop label.


    Kahl Wallis
    Lead singer and songwriter for indie/alternative band The Medics, environmental and social activist, storyteller, and now solo performer, Kahl Wallis is a young Aboriginal man on a mission. After releasing their debut album Foundations in 2012, Kahl’s band The Medics took out top honours at the 2012 National Indigenous Music Awards with wins for Best New Talent, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year for ‘Griffin’, and were crowned Best New Talent at the 2013 Rolling Stone Awards. In late 2014 Kahl decided to strip back into raw acoustic mode to explore his songwriting and cultural roots further. He was soon invited to tour with Blue King Brown, opening for them as a solo artist at their shows across the country. With his solo project only just beginning to gather speed, Kahl was extremely honoured to receive the Dreaming Award at the 2015 National Indigenous Arts Awards, presented by the Australia Council for the Arts. The award came with a $20,000 cash prize for him to record his debut solo album, currently scheduled for release in late 2016. Between recording as a solo artist, touring, participating in community projects, and working on his second record with The Medics, Kahl also works as a music mentor and healthy-lifestyle facilitator with The Jimmy Little Foundation, delivering workshops to Indigenous children in remote communities. Kahl identifies with his grandfathers country, the Wuthathi Nation from the white sands of Shelburne Bay in Cape York Peninsula, and his Grandmothers mob, the Lardil people from Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria. He takes his last name ‘Wallis’ from his great-great-grandfather of the Polynesian islands of Wallis and Futuna. Keep an ear to the ground for debut recordings from Kahl, as well as the much-anticipated second record from the Medics – exciting times lay ahead!


    Emma Donovan
    Emma Donovan grew up singing church songs with her maternal grandparents on the North coast of New South Wales. Her first secular gigs were singing in The Donovans, a band comprised of her mother and five uncles. With her mother, Emma sang country for years, and in her youth was a fixture at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, but she always yearned for the bluesier tones of her Father’s record collection, full of American artists like Laverne Baker and Etta James and Indigenous Australian artists like No Fixed Address and Archie Roach. Years later, after touring and recording with many of the mainstays of Indigenous music and developing as a solo artist in her own right, Emma met members of The PutBacks, and finally she found a band with the gritty blues soaked tones she had been looking for. She also found, in PutBacks bassist Mick Meagher, a co-writer and collaborator on the the soul songs she had been waiting a lifetime to write and sing.


    Rising star Gawurra recently released his debut album Ratja Yaliyali. It has resounded deeply and captured the attention of both the music industry and the general public winning a 4 star and 4.5 star review from Rolling Stone Magaine, SMH & The Age this month. Record label CAAMA Music is reporting strong sales for both digital and physical formats and last week the album reached the No.1 spot on the iTunes world music chart. Gawurra was born on the Gove Peninsula and spent time as a child on his Grandmother’s land of Yathalamara, before moving to Milingimbi Island. He has recently moved to live in Melbourne with his family, in order to further his musical career. His culture, songlines, stories and history are deeply embedded in his resonant voice and soulful blend of traditional and contemporary songs. Gawurra is a gentle and genuine young leader. He is to be an Elder in his community; the Old people gave him this knowledge and power. It is important for him to teach his kids, brothers and sisters the ‘right way’. Gawurra is passionate about keeping his Gupapungu language strong. Gawurra won the 2015 NT Song of the Year Award in the Pop category for the song Ratja YaliYali. This year he has been nominated in the same catagory with mulunda.


    Rayella is a family band from Marlinja Community, located approximately 730 kilometres south of Darwin. Raymond Dixon and his daughter Eleanor are the driving force behind the beautiful melodies and stories that emerge from the engaging music this group bring to any performance, be it a campfire sing along or a festival in front of thousands. Lead singer Eleanor’s magical voice paired with her father’s skilful guitar playing and harmonising captivate audiences with their honest, emotive tunes about family, country and culture. Rayella’s list of achievements in the short time they have been performing together is testament to their ability to enthral, engage and delight audiences. In 2016 they have performed at Garmalang Festival (NT), Canberra National Folk Festival (ACT), Nannup Festival (WA) and were part of an incredible collaboration with US music legends The Violent Femmes, which saw the American superstar band act as Rayella’s backing musicians in a unique showcase at the US Consulate in Perth. Rayella also delivered a standout showcase at the Australasian World Music Expo (AWME) in Melbourne in 2015 and were selected to tour remote Australia with The Country Arts WA SandTracks Tour as well as being invited to perform at the famous MONA Museum in Tasmania, Folk Rhythm and Life Festival in Victoria. This alongside being invited to perform two years running at the annual Bush Bands Bash in Alice Springs. In doing so Eleanor become the first woman to be a part of Bush Bands Business, the three day professional development program which precedes the concert and she is the first woman to perform in one of the bands on the bill. “Rayella is a multi-generational, multi-lingual, musically diverse, powerful, direct and fun group of musicians. Their music is a deep blend of modern life and ancient energy.” Brian Ritchie – Violent Femmes, Curator Mona Foma Festival.


    David Spry
    Original singer/songwriter, David Spry draws influence from his world travels and relates this to his Indigenous Australian heritage through heartfelt, powerful and uplifting songs. From a long line of storytellers, David uses his inherited gift and shares his experiences in a contemporary style of music with a uniquely upbeat vibe. Teaming up with his full backing band ‘The Moral High Ground’, sees the creation of a diverse global sound that effortlessly combines Reggae, Roots and Blues. Incorporating an acoustic fervour likened to Ben Harper, and the snaking Rootsy grooves of a funk band from another era, his repertoire can have audiences both dancing with reckless abandon and being entranced and inspired by the warmth of his beautiful ballads. David has made his mark on the Australian music scene in the most recent years sharing stages alongside talents such as Archie Roach, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Busby Marou, Ash Grunwald, Tex Perkins & the Dark Horses, Andrew Strong, and Jeff Lang. With numerous song-writing accolades including Top-Ten finalist in the Australian Independent Music Awards 2013, sell-out shows and festival performances, David has an ability to captivate an audience of thousands as well as any intimate gig and is solidifying the fresh new sound of Indigenous contemporary music.


    Chris Tamwoy
    Chris Tamwoy is a self-taught guitarist with a unique playing style and sound. Spending his childhood years with family in the Torres Strait Islands, he now resides in Brisbane. Chris has attracted a lot of attention in recent years, in print media, radio, touring nationally, appearing on various documentaries and television shows including ‘Australia’s Got Talent’, and at many large events including TEDx. His unique guitar-tap style and vibrant personality see him in high-demand, with highlight gigs including Byron Bay Blues Festival 25th Anniversary, Woodford Folk Festival (QLD), Port Fairy Folk Festival (VIC), Darwin Festival, and many other shows throughout Australia and the Torres Strait Islands. 2016 saw Chris reach national audiences as he made his way thru to the grand finals of ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ TV Program – finishing in the top 5 contestants. He won the National NAIDOC AWARD for Youth of the Year (2015), has been nominated for Young Citizens Australia Day Award, was the feature of a documentary unearthing talented young Australian artists on SBS/ NITV and appears in numerous other short videos and documentaries. 2015 also saw the release of his debut EP – Ngaw Laag (My Home), available now via Impossible Odds Records. Dubbed as a ‘guitar virtuoso’, this humble young man is on the cusp of a promising music career.