It’s an exciting time in our Australian music landscape for women. With so much female talent finally being recognised and given the stage to perform on, we are seeing and hearing from some spectacular new females in the industry. It is even more special with the announcement this week of the amazing First Nations Women who are finalists in the National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs) in celebration of Naidoc Week. Some of the finalists don’t need an introduction as you will already know them and some, we have no doubt, you have heard on your radio or your playlists!
Get busy with your own playlists and start adding some of these talented women to your every day listening… you can also head to the full list of finalists playlist on Spotify to treat your ear buds here.
FINALIST – Artist of the Year/ Song of the Year (Dribble) – Sycco
Sycco aka Sasha Mcleod isn’t new to the music scene. The name probably rings a bell because over the last 12 months Sycco has been pretty busy. Taking out the Triple J Unearthed Level Up Grant, killing at BIGSOUND 2019 and being added to the Brisbane Laneway Lineup plus being added to many a playlist floating around the webs… Sycco is someone who has definitely graced your airwaves!
She’s already supported Vera Blue, City Calm Down, Spacey Jane, and Tia Gostelow (to name a few) and her new one, ‘Dribble’, was premiered on triple j Good Nights. While finding her voice in the music scene, Sasha went into a discovery of finding her family history unlocking the story of her granny who is of Torres Strait Island descent which uncovered the story of her granny being a jazz singer. With music in the blood, we can’t wait to see what is next for Sycco…
FINALIST – Artist of the Year – Jessica Mauboy
Jessica doesn’t need much of an introduction since being on our TV screens and airwaves since 2006. An Aboriginal Australian R&B and pop singer, songwriter, and actress, Jessica was born and raised in Darwin, Northern Territory. Jessica rose to fame in 2006 on the fourth season of Australian Idol, where she was runner-up and subsequently signed a recording contract with Sony Music Australia.
Jessica is about to grace our TV screens again this year as one of the coaches on The Voice which will be on Channel 7. Having just wrapped filming she is about to head back into the recording studio to finish off her fifth album.
FINALIST – Artist of the Year/Song of the Year (Damaged) – Miiesha
From the small Aboriginal community of Woorabinda, Australia, Miiesha arrived on the RnB landscape with a sound and a story that instantly demanded attention.
A strong, proud Anangu/Torres Strait Islander woman, Miiesha (Pronounced My-ee-sha) released her debut collection of songs entitled Nyaaringu in 2020. Meaning ‘what happened’ in Pitjantjatjara language, Nyaaringu explores the stories and the strength Miiesha inherited from her late Grandmother, whose interludes narrate the project. Since its release, Nyaaringu has not only garnered critical acclaim, but received the 2020 ARIA for Best Soul/RnB Release, a QLD Music Award, a NIMA, and went on to top multiple Album of the Year lists.
Inspired by the sounds of RnB, Gospel and Soul, and the power of spoken word poetry, Miiesha is using her music to bring people together to help educate and inspire.
With a voice that showcases vulnerability and strength, often in the one breath, Miiesha sings of her people, her community and her story with the raw emotion of lived experience. She weaves together the personal and political so tightly, the listener begins to understand just how inseparable they are for a young Aboriginal woman.
FINALIST – Album of the Year (Chrysalis) – Tia Gostelow
Tia Gostelow titled her new album “Chrysalis” which is a perfect way to describe the transformation of the young lady you see before you today. 2019 was here first year living away from family and friends and she turned that longing into the songs that appear on “Chrysalis”
Tia’s transformation from an aspiring teenage musician from Mackay to one of Australia’s most exciting artists has come to fruition in 2020. Bursting onto the scene in 2018 with her debut album “Thick Skin”, Tia now returns with an album that delivers coming-of-age experiences through lush pop landscapes and danceable 80’s influences with the help of Oscar Dawson (Holy Holy, Alex Lahey) who produced the record.
“Chrysalis” was released in October and the world took notice. It was feature album on Triple J, Tonedeaf and Aureview and scored glowing praise globally from the likes of Spin, American Songwriter and Line Of Best Fit to name a few.
21-year-old Tia has released two albums with the song “Strangers” just shy of 12 million streams and certified GOLD, 2 Triple J feature albums and the Queensland Music Award for album of the year for “Thick Skin”.
The most exciting thing for Tia is that she has really settled in with her family of bandmates Jordan Bain, Sebastian Jennings-Hingston & Izzy De Leon. Her live achievements already include a UK tour, SOLD OUT Australian headline shows, performances at Falls and Groovin In The Moo festivals and sharing the stage with the likes of Bernard Fanning, Boy & Bear, Ball Park Music, Frightened Rabbit, Lewis Capaldi and Gomez. As the world opens up in 2021 Tia and her band will be sharing their celebratory new live show as far and wide as possible.
FINALIST – Album of the Year – Leah Flanagan
Leah Flanagan’s third studio album, Colour by Number, sparkles with pop gems, shimmering like beads of condensation against cold glass on a sultry Darwin evening. A follow up to Flanagan’s 2016 lauded sophomore album Saudades, this dreamy collection of deeply personal, narrative driven songs glimmer with nods to Sade, Bic Runga and Norah Jones while leaning back into the assuredness of Flanagan’s characteristically unhurried, deft vocal delivery and the earthen textures of producer Sarah Belkner’s expertly arranged strings.
2020 has seen Flanagan, now a mother herself, return to her hometown of Darwin after almost a decade in Sydney. And it’s back in the tropical north of Australia where she’s been able to dig her bare feet further into the soil of her roots and launch this collection of songs, so directly informed by her early musical influences and the communities of cultures which have bolstered her proud Italian, Indigenous (Alyawarre) and Irish heritage.
Colour By Number, produced by Sarah Belkner and recorded by Richard “Richie” Belkner at Free Energy Device Studios in Sydney, is an assured maiden outing into deeply personal terrain for Flanagan as an artist. She is speaking directly, for the first time through her songs, to long-formed thoughts on belonging, identity and self-knowing, to gentrification and change and to carving out her own place amidst the swirling convergence of her multifaceted heritage. There is a maturity and a knowing in these songs that cannot be feigned. Colour by Number is a direct testament to Leah’s skill in synthesising her rich life experiences and continuing lessons learned with her deep connection to her art, set against Belkner’s playful and confident pop-informed choices.
First single Linen Girls dives immediately into Flanagan’s experience as a biracial woman and the ongoing internal compromises involved in living between two worlds. The track pulses with electric rhythm guitar, conjuring early Divinyls, while classic 90s pop synths soar overhead. Starlight, an ode to self-belief and solidarity among friends, launches out of contained verses into a sailing, hook-laden chorus. And Aralia, a reference to the gentrification of Darwin suburb Nightcliff, effortlessly marries the textures of live drums with programmed beats against a dreamy wash of synths and chorus-rich electric guitars, with Belkner’s string arrangements swelling throughout. Consistently, Colour by Number is emotional, lush and pulsing with truth.
Colour By Number is out now through Flanagan’s Darwin based, Indigenous owned and operated label Small Change Records.
The National Indigenous Music Awards will be airing Saturday, August 7 at 7:30pm on NITV & online platforms or if you are in Darwin you can attend the awards by heading to www.darwinfestival.org.au
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