Celebrating Indigenous culture


Brenda Gifford from the Indigenous Connections team talks about the recent National Indigenous Music Awards and the NFSA Indigenous Oral Histories program.

Dan Sultan. Courtesy Chryss Carr Management. Photo by Glenn Campbell.

The National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs) are a premiere Indigenous music event. The NIMAs showcase the rich musical landscape of Indigenous Australia and highlight the music from remote and Top End Aboriginal communities. Held annually, they are a special celebration of Indigenous music. This year’s ceremony took place at Darwin’s historic The Amphitheatre on 10 August.



The Indigenous Connections team attended the NIMAs to collect oral histories and the interviews we recorded represent a snapshot of current Indigenous music.

Interviewees include Dan Sultan, Briggs, Tjintu Desert Band, Jacinta Price, Catherine Satour and Mark Munk.

The NIMAs provided a great opportunity for me to talk to the musicians and bands about their music, especially musicians from the desert and singers we don’t always get the opportunity to hear in the cities. It’s important to capture their stories and put Indigenous musicians on the record, and have their stories in the NFSA collection.

A highlight of the evening was Dan Sultan’s performance, playing a blistering set that left the audience wanting more. The band played like a well-oiled machine and Sultan mesmerised the crowd with his live version of the song 'Under Your Skin’.

Sultan won awards for Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Cover Art of the Year, cementing his position as a shining light in Australian music. You can watch the video to Dan’s single 'Under Your Skin’, from the album Blackbird, below:

Also at the NIMAs were Jacinta Price and Catherine Satour from The Desert Divas Indigenous Women’s Music Program, a key initiative of Music NT that supports the development of remote Aboriginal women musicians.

Tjintu Desert Band showcased the amazing level of talent in Aboriginal communities and, through their music, showed us their strong connection to country and culture. They represented the ongoing contribution of desert bands to the music scene.

Crowd favourite Tom E Lewis played material from his critically acclaimed album Beneath the Sun.

It was great to see Indigenous hip hop artists and music receive due recognition of the genre and representation at the awards, with artists such as Briggs and the induction of rapper Munkimuk (AKA Mark Munk Ross) into the NIMA Hall of Fame. Hip hop and rap are the genres of music that this generation of artists are using to get their message across so it was very important for us to speak to artists like Briggs and Munk and have their stories on the record.

The diversity of music represented in this year’s awards – everything from rap and reggae through to rock – shows that Aboriginal music is in a great place, solid and strong. The NFSA holds collection material on Dan Sultan, including Dan singing ‘Nyul Nyul Girl’ from the Bran Nue Dae soundtrack (NFSA title: 799990), and Briggs’s song ‘The Wrong Brother’, from the album The Blacklist (NFSA title: 1030053).

The mixture of community, location and great music was a winning combination and gave me a night I won’t forget for a long time.