NIMA Finalists announced

Key announcements:

  • NIMA Finalists announced
  • FINAL Artist Announce today
  • triple j Unearthed NIMA competition winner details

The final artists to join the bill for NIMA 2016 are; Shellie Morris, Warren H. Williams with Danielle Young, punk rockers Lonely Boys and Yirrmal with his father Witiyana Marika [Yothu Yindi]. The Rirratjingu Clan from North/East Arnhem Land will bring to Darwin one of the largest group of dancers in years for a special traditional performance (Bunggul) by members in honor of Roy Marika the ‘Father of Land Rights ‘ Djuki Mala bring the NIMA’s audience an exclusive, a specially choreographed performance for the increasingly relevant anthem – Treaty. They join AB Original, Kahl Wallis, rising star Stanley “Gawurra” Gaykamangu and emerging artists Rayella, Chris Tamwoy and David Spry. Additionally, taking to the NIMA stage will be Kuren; this year’s triple j Unearthed NIMA competition winner.

With this year’s theme being Protest Songs, this year’s performances will imbue the crowd with an emotional potency as songs both contemporary and iconic will be delivered by a diverse line-up. Celebrating 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 topped the charts this year’s National Indigenous Music Awards will be an historical and musical highlight.

This year’s list of Finalists puts a spotlight on the new breed of artists making a mark on the mainstream. Fresh from major festival stages across the country, Briggs and A.B. Original, through to emerging artists; Benny Walker who currently holds the No.3 spot on the Amrap chart with Oh No You Don’t, Emily Wurramara this week nabbed the No 1 spot with her sweet song Black Smoke [added to triple j this week] and Gawurra’s album Ratja Yaliyali listed in Rolling Stone’s top 50 albums of 2016 [so far] chart out last week sit alongside the eternal presence of Gurrumul.

2016 is the year where a number of artists that are on the cusp of success shine through the list of finalists. Emily fresh from success at the Queensland Music Awards and and rise and rise of Gawurra encapsulate the new guard of contemporary Indigenous music. We are excited to announce this year’s list and look forward to announcing the winners in August,” says Mark Smith – Executive Director of MusicNT & NIMAs.

Without further ado the FINALISTS for NIMA 2016 are:

Artist of the Year

Emma Donovan
Dan Sultan
Gurrumul Yunupingu

Album of the Year

Ratja Yaliyali – Gawurra
The Gospel Album – Gurrumul Yunupingu
Open LIVE – Live from the National Theatre, Melbourne – Dan Sultan

Song of the Year

A.B. Original – Dead In A Minute feat. Caiti Baker
A.B. ORIGINAL – 2 Black 2 Strong
Ratja Yaliyali – Gawurra
The Children Came Back – Briggs, Dewayne Everettsmith & Gurrumul
Oh No You Don’t – Benny Walker

New Talent

A.B. Original
Benny Walker
Emily Wurramara
Chris Tamwoy

Cover Art

Gawurra – Ratja Yaliyali
Benny Walker – Oh No You Don’t
Gurrumul Yunupingu – The Gospel Album

Film Clip

Briggs – The Children Came Back ft Gurrumul & Dewayne Everettsmith –

Benny Walker – Oh No You Don’t –
Gawurra – Ratja Yaliyali –

Community Music Clip:

Yolngu Style
Community: Galiwinku
Video Production: Brittan Andrews AKA Syd, Grayson Huddart
Music Production: Aman Bayatly AKA Tera, Michael O’connell AKA Mixer, Dion Brownfield
Director: Dallas Woods
Yolgnu Style – Is a deadly modern contemporary dance music video created by a unique group of talented artists to inspire the world to dance, move and absorb the Yolgnu style. Inspired by the mixture of old school hip hop flavour mixed together with traditional Red Flag Dancers from Elcho Island / Yolgnu style.

Break The Silence
Community: Ngukurr
Ngukurr School, White Ribbon Australia and Indigenous Hip Hop Projects partnered to make this powerful and important music video / resource touching on the powerful messages of the White Ribbon campaign – Break The Silence.

Community: Katherine
IHHP & KTown – Shadows

IHHP partnered with YMCA Katherine, Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service and the incredibly talented young adults from Ktown to write, record and shoot this world class music video ‘Shadows’.


Kuren – 2016 winner of the triple j Unearthed National Indigenous Music Awards competition
Kuren, aka Curtis Kennedy, of the Wiradjuri people, grew up in the 1500-strong town of Hillston in regional NSW, before moving to Sydney to work on his music. After first spotting him via Unearthed High campaign, he was marked as one of ‘10 Artists to Watch in 2016’ by triple j Unearthed. Ever since, he’s been busy delivering on that promise. A stellar debut EP and some impressive collaborations with Allday, Sophie Lowe and Banks have us all sorts of excited about what he’s going to do next.

Warren H Williams
Warren H. Williams is an Aranda man and one of Australia’s most highly decorated Aboriginal artists. Warren has been honing his skills on the guitar since he first picked one up with his father, country music singer Gus Williams. A man of many talents, he also holds the honour of writing the first ever Central Australian Indigenous musical, Magic Coolamon, and of writing and directing episodes of the Aboriginal television series, Our Place. An old hand when it comes to talented inspirational collaborations, Warren was nominated at the ARIA’s and the Golden Guitars for his work with John Williamson in the duet Raining on the Rock. This collaboration, in addition to his solo work also saw him proudly take out the Deadly Awards more than once since 1998 along with NAIDOC Artist of the Year in 2006. Clearly a musical match made to be, Williams and Danielle Young took less than a year to write, record and produce their distinctive duet album. The duo has been described as a meeting of complementary opposites with Warren coming from the desert and Young harking from the city, and their differences in age and experience meeting to make a perfect musical match. They bring life to the songs, hashing them out from ideas influenced by the Central Australian desert and the importance of appreciating the land and the precious gift of water. Dani is clearly a talented and evocative writer in her own right, bringing a musical style advanced far beyond her years.

Yirrmal’s father Witiyana Marikana is one of the founding members of Yothu Yindi band and singer of traditional song. On this special occasion father and son join for NIMA 2016. A new generation Indigenous Australian artist Yirrmal is from YIRRKALA in North-East Arnhem Land and is making an exciting entrance into the music scene. Inspired by heroes Yothu Yindi, Yirrmal is a refreshing singer songwriter, fusing tradition and contemporary with class and passion. He performs as a solo artist, and with his group Yirrmal & The Yolngu Boys. He is an aspiring songwriter and guitarist with a beautifully powerful voice, singing songs about his homeland and culture with feeling and depth beyond his years.

“We’re living in two worlds, learning in two worlds, carrying a message, a sharing of culture.
We’re exploring new horizons with our sound, mixing western styles with our traditional song, adding a new dimension to music. We aim to set an example for Indigenous youth, and to be being strong, positive role models for the young generation.”
Yirrmal states.

Yirrmal is related to Geoffery Gurrumul Yunupingu on his mother’s side, and his father, Witiyana Marika, was a singer and dancer in Yothu Yindi. Yirrmal’s debut studio recording DEEP BLUE SEA was produced by Carlo Santone (Blue King Brown) & Craig Pilkington (Archie Roach / Gurrumul). Yirrmal is connecting a new found sound and engaging the hearts of all who are lucky enough to hear him. A special artist to look out for as he begins to make his mark.

Shellie Morris is one of Australia’s finest Indigenous singer songwriters and her voice and heart-felt music has seen her grace the stage from Melbourne to Vancouver Winter Olympics, Japan and London. She is a feature artist with the Black Arm Band and has collaborated with the likes of multiple Grammy Award winner Gilberto Gil, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Mavis Staples, Tim Rogers, Yothu Yindi, Warumpi Band, Paul Dempsey, Jimmy Barnes and Mischelle Ngecell. Firmly rooted in community and sharing her songs of life, Shellie has been a huge inspiration and role model for Indigenous musicians; from her work on the big stages with John Cale, Sinead O’Connor and Gurrumul Yunupingu to sitting around a campfire with a guitar, her music speaks of shared experience and backgrounds. Shellie is an ambassador for APRA and is 2012 national winner of the Music in Communities Award from the Music Council of Australia for her work in Indigenous communities around the nation using music as a healing and sharing experience. She is a two-time winner of Female Musician of the Year at the NT Indigenous Music Awards and her language album Ngambala Wiji Li-Wunungu (Together We Are Strong) created with the Borroloola Songwomen won a 2012 National Indigenous Music Award. Ngambala Wiji Li-Wunungu was released internationally through ABC Music in July. The first song from the album won the National Indigenous Music Award Song of the Year in August and the album was nominated for a Deadlys Award.

Lonely Boys are from the remote Arnhemland community of Ngukurr, 700 km south east of Darwin.
They are a six-piece guitar inspired punk rock band who have been playing in local and surrounding communities for over ten years. They won this year’s NT Song of the Year award – Rock category for Murray Island. In 2006 Lonely Boys won the Barunga Battle of the bands competition; no easy task given the quality of the performers that year. They have gone on to win many such contests. The band’s commitment to performing and their high level of performance skill has been an inspiration to other bands in the community. They have performed extensively across Arnhem Land to thousands of adoring fans at Indigenous community festivals including a recent headline performance at the 2016 Barunga Festival. The dedication to music of key Lonely Boys members Ambrose Daniels and Bert Rami is bearing fruit amongst the disaffected younger members of the community. Both Ambrose and Bert have been responsible for steering a dysfunctional group of young boys into music and away from anti social behaviour and those boys have formed their own band called ‘Bad Tee Boys’. Lonely Boys have been working extremely hard since Barunga 2015. With the help of ARIA nominated Producer James Mangohig (Sietta), they worked up 6 songs for a studio recording. In March 2016 James took lonely boys to Loose Stones Studio on the Gold Coast to work with another leading Producer Forrester Savall to record a debut EP.


Direct from North East Arnhem Land, Indigenous dance and YouTube sensations Djuki Mala are know for their unique, infectious and exuberant performances. Djuki Mala fuse traditional Yolngu and contemporary pop culture, dance and storytelling to create work that is a marvel of timing, comedy and clowning. Their appearances have electrified audiences at major festivals and events worldwide with multiple award nominations including a 2014 Helpmann Awards and the 2015 award for Best Dance at Adelaide Fringe Festival. Djuki Mala’s performances offer a rare and insightful view into Indigenous Australia and their performance for Treaty specifically choreographed for NIMA 2016 is sure to be a show stopper.


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!

Stanley Gawurra Gaykamangu
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.

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 includingTEDx. 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 in 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’ – finishing in the top 5. He won the National NAIDOC AWARD for Youth of the Year (2015), was 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 via Impossible Odds Records. Dubbed as a ‘guitar virtuoso’, this young man is on the cusp of a promising career.

Key Dates

Sun July 31st – Entries close for triple j Unearthed High + Indig Schools Comp 2016
Sat 6th August – Announce at NIMA the Unearthed High + Indig Schools winner
Sat 6th August – NIMA Awards Ceremony & Concert: Darwin Amphitheatre, NT.

NIMA 2016 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.

National Indigenous Music Awards Ceremony & Concert are held at Darwin Amphitheatre on Sat. 6th August.

Further information visit> Tickets on sale or 08 89 434 222

Gates open 6 pm
Duration 4hrs
Venue The Amphitheatre, Darwin Botanical Gardens.

Tickets: Adult $35, Conc $28 Kids under 12 FREE. Groups of 8 or more at concession price.

The National Indigenous Music Awards are an initiative of MusicNT and are presented in partnership with the Northern Territory Government and are part of the Darwin Festival.

Media Enquiries:
Chryss Carr – AUM PR // // 0417 800 869//
Cooper-Lily Nikora –AUM PR // // 0432 601 211//