The Yolŋu surf-rock band are continuing to make waves – and to prove that talent runs deep in the family
Surf-rock band King Stingray were the major winners of the 2023 National Indigenous Music awards (Nimas), with Yothu Yindi – a band in their bloodlines – inducted into the hall of fame at a ceremony in Darwin on Saturday night.
King Stingray, from north-east Arnhem Land, won song of the year and film clip of the year for Let’s Go. The track, from the band’s self-titled debut, was described as “irresistibly joyful” in Guardian Australia’s four-star review.
King Stingray’s singer, Yirrnga Yunupingu, is the nephew of Yothu Yindi’s Dr M Yunupingu, while guitarist Roy Kellaway is the son of Yothu Yindi bassist Stuart Kellaway. The pair grew up as wawas (brothers) in Yirrkala, on Yolŋu country; Dr M was the principal and Kellaway the music teacher at their school. The pair have performed in the legendary group as well. “It was a really big moment to go from looking at this band in awe to being on stage,” Kellaway told Guardian Australia in 2020.
Yothu Yindi have amassed more than a dozen Aria, Mo and Deadly awards across more than three decades. The band – best known for Treaty, which peaked at #1 on the Aria charts in 1991 – was honoured on Saturday night for their “long and powerful” contribution to Indigenous and Australian music.
Artist of the year went to 21-year-old Budjerah from Fingal Head, a relative newcomer who was named breakthrough artist at the 2021 Aria awards and won the Aria for best soul/R&B release the following year.
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Delungra indie artist Thelma Plum won album of the year for her third EP, Meanjin, described as a love letter to her hometown of Brisbane and written during Covid-19 lockdowns.
The Indigenous language award went to Arnhem Land songman Ngulmiya, for his self-titled debut album.
Nima creative director Ben Graetz described the awards, held at the Darwin amphitheatre on Larrakia Country, as an “exceptional night of Blak excellence” that recognised a slew of rising and established talent.skip past newsletter promotion
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Bumpy, who won Triple J’s Unearthed Nima competition last year, was named best new talent. Family band Wildfire Manwurrk, also from Arnhem Land, won community clip of the year and the Archie Roach Foundation award.
Now in their 19th year, the 2023 awards were hosted by cultural leader and songman Fred Leone, and singer/songwriter and actor Elaine Crombie. Leone, Plum and Budjerah also performed.
Triple J will broadcast highlights from the Nimas on its Blak Out show on Sunday 13 August; NITV and SBS On Demand will televise the ceremony at 7.30pm on Sunday.