Australia is filled with deadly First Nations singer-songwriters. Here are just a few of my favourites. Feel free to listen along to this article by using this link!
Who are they: In his own words, Baker Boy is a “proud black Yolngu boy with the killer flow,” and he is not wrong. He is one of Australia’s most prominent rappers, who rose to fame after winning Triple J’s Unearthed National Indigenous Music Awards in 2017 for his singles Cloud 9 and Marryuna (both of which were featured in Triple Js Hottest 100 of 2017).
Tell me more: This rapper, dancer, and actor is now a household name, with his songs making their way to numerous Aussie playlists. Baker Boy made his acting debut in The True History of the Kelly Gang which is so so so so good – one of my all-time favourite films (you can now watch it on Stan).
My fav songs: I love Better Days which features Dallas Woods and Sampa the Great. It is such a cool track with a smooth groove, that you are guaranteed to bop your head to. One of his most well-known songs, Cool as Hell, is also popular for a reason: it slaps.
Budjerah (pronounced bu-j-erah)
Who are they: Budjerah is a Coodjinburra man from the Bundalung community, tearing up the Aussie music scene with his singing and songwriting abilities. He says that his music is heavily influenced by his upbringing in the church where he would live and breathe music. He is a perfect mix between soul, RnB, indie, and pop – and definitely someone to watch.
Tell me more: Budjerah blessed our screens on The Voice in 2019, where he was absolutely ROBBED with no chair turns (I still haven’t recovered from this). However, it wasn’t long until he teamed with one of Australia’s leading artists and producers, Matt Corby. Together, they created his debut self-titled EP, as well as live versions of all four of his favourite songs from the album, which feature the likes of Matt Corby himself, Ngaiire, Ainslie Wills, and JK-47. He also has some tracks with Ed Sheeran and Lil Baby, which is pretty cool for a young, up-and-coming Aussie artist.
My fav songs: His first single release, Missing You, is such a smooth, silky, groovy song – One of those songs that you can listen to over and over and over and never get sick of. And if you think this song couldn’t get better, the live version feat. Matt Corby really challenges that, as it shows their insane vocals (the number of times my sister and I have just replayed the last bit of the song where they just run over everyone is incomprehensible).
From his most recent EP Conversations, released in 2022, the gorgeous song Wash My Sorrows Away is like a warm hug from the soul gods. What Should I Do is another favourite of mine – it’s just so god-damn groovy, and stanky, and perfect, from the vocals right down to the tambourine and bridge break down.
Who are they: A household legend and Australian icon, Jessica Mauboy has many classic pop hits (which honestly are so good) and many may know her as a judge on The Voice. BUT, now she is taking a shift into heavy bass dance tunes, and I am very here for it.
Tell me more: Mauboy first came to Australia’s attention in 2006 when she competed on Australian Idol, where she was robbed of the top spot but received an honourable second place. Throughout her career, Mauboy has received numerous awards and performed all over the world, even representing Australia at Eurovision with her song We Got Love. She has also dabbled in the acting world, with her most renowned role in The Sapphires, which she also received some awards for!
My fav song: Obviously her classic dance, pop tunes like Pop a Bottle (Fill Me Up) and Burn really do hit the spot, and take me back to dancing around and performing my sold-out show in my bedroom. Her new songs Automatic and Glow are also both so cool! I love how different they are for her – taking a more modern, pseudo-70s, techno, dance vibe, that still showcases her deadly vocals. Glow has been one of my on-repeat songs that puts me in such a good mood every time and gets me grooving.
Miiesha (pronounced My-ee-sha)
Who are they: Miiesha is an Australian singer-songwriter from the Woorabinda community and is a strong Anangu / Torres Strait Islander woman. Her powerful lyrics and vocals use every letter, every breath, to tell a unique story. Her music is heavily influenced by her community and culture.
Tell me more: her debut EP Nyaaringu (meaning “what happened” in Pitjantjatjara language) explores the themes of her life in such a raw, emotional, and real way. Her late grandmother’s words are embedded and woven throughout the EP, symbolic of Indigenous Elders passing down their knowledge to younger generations. Miiesha is a recipient of numerous awards; one of her most notorious, her ARIA in 2020 for Best Soul/RnB Release for this EP!
My fav songs: from Nyaaringu, I love how Black Privilege is so different and challenging, whilst being so smooth and beautiful. She packs in some crunchy chords which just pull at your soul. Twisting Words is a stanky band song with crispy vocals and sexy guitar solos.
From her 2021 EP Smoke, Damaged is such a cool and smooth bop, and won Miiesha Song of the Year at the National Indigenous Music Awards. I love how you can both rock out to this song and have a sad, cool person cry to it.
Who are they: Thelma Plum is a Gamilaray woman from Delungra, New South Wales. Her classic, cool, indie, Australian sounds showcase some powerful themes and gorgeously unique vocals.
Tell me more: Her music touches on what it is like to be an Aboriginal woman in Australia. Her single Better in Blak highlights her struggles with her culture and heritage, and the love and pain that she has felt from it. This influential and monumental song reached number nine in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2019, making her the highest ranked Indigenous artist at that time. Whether you enjoy her music or not, I can guarantee this song will get you screaming some much-needed profanities to the world.
My fav songs: Clumsy Love, one of her most popular songs, is scientifically proven to get you up and dancing with its strong pop influence and rocking band drive. Her most recent release, When it Rains it Pours, is a song you put on to stare out the car window, or whilst you’re making dinner with a glass of red in your hand. Don’t Let a Good Girl Down is the sweetest ‘screw you’ the world has ever heard. I dig the vibe, between the harsh lyrics and the cheeky little whistles – I love it.
You can listen to these awesome artists and more First Nations musicians on Triple J’s weekly show Blak Out, on Sundays from 5pm to 6pm; where for a whole hour it is exclusively Aussie Indigenous artists.
I am a lover of all things music, creative and crime! I’m a Criminology and Psychology student who loves to analyses the world and share how much music can change the world. I strive to educate individuals about the crime, discrimination and injustices the world is facing in a palatable and interesting way.