Music heavyweights head to the Top End

Indigenous music’s night of nights — The National Indigenous Music Awards — will this year feature a stellar line-up of performers as it celebrates several key anniversaries.

Hip hop artists A.B. Original, singer-songwriter Kahl Wallis, soul singer Emma Donovan, Stanley “Gawurra” Gaykamangu and up and coming artists Rayella, Chris Tamwoy and David Spry have been announced to perform.

More than 3000 people are expected at the Darwin Botanic Gardens Amphitheatre for the concert and awards on August 6, with winners crowned in eight key categories including artist, album and song of the year.

There is also a Northern Territory Traditional Music Award.

Last year, Dan Sultan and Jessica Mauboy were announced as joint artists of the year.

Organisers say this year’s concert coincides with important milestones such as the 50th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk off — the historic and successful seven-year strike by the Gurindji people for the return of their land in the NT.

It is also the 40th anniversary of the Land Rights Act which followed Wave Hill a decade later, 30 years since Yothu Yindi’s Tribal Voice and 25 years since Treaty topped the charts.

The protest song is set to be at the fore.

“Music has stoked the fire and been a voice of protest for many years and what better way to recognise a year of milestones than celebrating the strong history of Indigenous protest songs?” said NIMA executive director Mark Smith.

Kahl Wallis, frontman for The Medics, will give a sneak peak from his first, upcoming solo album. The talented singer-songwriter is set to perform with an acoustic guitar.

He said the awards were important.

“It’s like a modern form of contemporary ceremony, a coming together of people from all over the country to share our music and share our stories and raise awareness for our peoples and share our love for music and art,” he said.

Wallis said indigenous music had a strong modern history.

“I’ve looked up to artists like Yothu Yindi and Coloured Stone and Kev Carmody,” he said. “To be up there and performing is an honour and I’m really looking forward to the future and becoming a significant role model for the next generations.”

Nominations for the NIMAs close on Friday June 17 and finalists will be announced in July.

The night will be held on the same weekend as two other Darwin events — the 33rd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award on August 5 and the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair which will held from August 5 to 7.

Tickets to the NIMA are on sale at or telephone 08 89 434 222.

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