Ishmael and his Two Sisters walk with major music award

A member of the famous Marika family, which was central to the Land Rights movement 40 years ago, has taken out a key music award with a traditional song about the land from which they come.

Ishmael Marika, 25, a film-maker and musician, won the NT Traditional Song of the Year at the National Indigenous Music Awards with a recording of Two Sisters Journey.

Marika said the Songline had been with his family for five generations. He decided to record it several months ago to mark a milestone year for Land Rights.

“It’s really important for me because it reminds me of my grandfather because it was the 40th anniversary of Land Rights,” he said. “That’s why I think about my grandfather.”

The song tells the story of the creation of the world, the setting of rules of behaviour and of the encounter between human and animal ancestors, who make sense of the world and its forces.

Marika, from Yirrkala in East Arnhem Land, grew up with traditional music and began singing at the age of 10.

His father is prominent artist Wanyubi Marika, an elder of the Rirratjingu clan and his grandfather, Milirrpum, represented his people in the first Land Rights case — Marika versus Nabalco in the Supreme Court in Darwin in 1971.

Land rights and traditional ceremonies have figured prominently in Ishmael Marika’s documentary films. Two years ago he also premiered a short drama, Galka.

“I’m in the middle,” Marika says of film-making versus music. “I can go with the flow. So I can be a musician or film-maker.”

Marika was also recently named Telstra Youth of the Year at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards.

About 2000 people attended this year’s music awards at the Darwin Amphitheatre on Saturday night.

Elcho Island singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu won Artist of the Year for the 5th time. He temporarily left hospital to attend in a wheelchair and also accepted the award for Song of the Year with rapper Adam Briggs for The Children Came Back.

Gurrumul underwent surgery in April for bleeding connected with liver disease caused by Hepatitis B, which he acquired as a young child.

Rising star Gawurra, who recently moved from the NT to Melbourne, won four awards from five nominations, including Best New Talent.

He also won awards for Album of the Year, Cover Art and Best Film Clip.

Song of the Year went to Briggs for The Children Came Back, featuring Dewayne Everettsmith and Gurrumul.

Mutti Mutti elder and statesman Kutcha Edwards was inducted into the Hall of Fame for a career that has spanned 30 years producing music and serving his people.
Artist of the Year

Gurrumul Yunupingu


Album of the Year



Song of the Year

The Children Came Back – Briggs. Written by Gurrumul Yunupingu, Archie Roach, Corey McGregor, James Mangohig and Adam Briggs and performed by Briggs, Dewayne Everettsmith & Gurrumul.


New Talent of the Year



Cover Art

Ratja Yaliyali – Gawurra.

Designer: Jalyay JAJA Thompson.


Film Clip

Ratja Yaliyali – Gawurra.

Director and producer: Pippa Samaya.


Community Music Clip

Break The Silence.

Ngukurr Community, Indigenous Hip Hop Projects, White Ribbon.


Traditional Song of the Year

Two Sisters Journey – Ishmael Marika.


Hall of Fame

Kutcha Edwards.


Wendy Caccetta

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