At its very core, Global Citizen believes that music is one of the most powerful tools for social change available.
That's why we work so closely in partnership with the world's biggest artists — all who use their platform to promote and protect civil, political, economic and social rights — through our Global Citizen Rewards program and our many virtual and in-person festivals.
The past few years, amid turbulent lockdowns and rough times, music, for many, has been a true source of comfort, inspiration and release. Over the past 24 months, Indigenous Australian music has played a particularly important and unique role in bringing perspective, understanding and deliverance to people across Australia and the world.
Below, we've compiled a list of incredible First Nations artists who have inspired our Global Citizen Oceania team members. Whether familiar or unfamiliar, give these musicians a listen the next time you need a pick me up, require background music while reflecting or just want to bring on an emotional release.
Birdz, the stage name of Bitchulla man Nathan Bird, first shot to fame after his debut album Train of Thought received critical acclaim in 2017. The rapper, songwriter and producer grew up in Katherine but is now based in Melbourne. His follow up album, Legacy, was released in 2021 and explored themes of racism, corruption, cultural identity and Indigenous inequality.
2. Baker Boy
Danzal Baker — who also goes by Baker Boy, Gela and the Fresh Prince of Arnhem Land, among others — is a rapper, dancer, artist and actor. Baker, known for incorporating both English and the Yolngu Matha language into his lyrics, was made Young Australian of the Year in 2019 for his work supporting and inspiring Indigenous children. The 25-year-old has six ARIA nominations to his name.
3. Thelma Plum
The Gamilaraay singer and songwriter is probably best known for her hit song “Better In Blak,” an ode to the resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women that came ninth in the 2019 Hottest 100 countdown listener poll from the triple j radio station. Her most recent album, of the same name, peaked at number four in the Australian music charts.
4. The Kid LAROI
The Kid LAROI officially became the highest placing Indigenous Australian artist in the history of the Hottest 100 after his song “Stay” with Justin Bieber finished second in the 2022 countdown. The LAROI part of his name is derived from the word Kamilaroi, which refers to the mob of Indigenous peoples the young rapper proudly belongs to.
5. Mitch Tambo
Tambo, a proud Gamilaraay man, may be best known for performing "You're The Voice" alongside John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John and lead guitarist of Queen Brian May at the Fire Fight Australia Concert. Tambo, iconically, sang his verses of the famous song in the Gamilaraay language. His 2018 album Guurrama-Li reached the number one spot on Australia's iTunes World Music charts.
6. Emily Wurramara
Wurramara, an ARIA-nominated singer-songwriter, released her debut EP, Black Smoke, to great acclaim in 2016. Hearing the didgeridoo in the background of her hit song from the EP, also entitled “Black Smoke,” is an otherworldly experience. The incredibly talented musician — who grew up on the northern Australian island of Groote Eylandt — then released an 11-track album, Milyakburra, in 2018 and is currently working on her next album, due for release sometime later this year.
7. The Merindas
Candice Lorrae and Kristel Kickett make up the incredible pop duo, The Merindas. Complicated, a disco-fuelled EP, was released last year and followed the launch of eight-track LP We Sing Until Sunrise, which delved into themes of reconciliation and Indigenous discrimination. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to The Merindas.
8. Yothu Yindi
Yothu Yindi was formed in the mid-1980s and has gone on, over almost four decades, to become one of the most well-respected and successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bands of all time. The band's incredible plethora of genre-bending work has contributed significantly to the growing movement for calls for a treaty between the Australian Government and First Nations Australians. The call has yet to be answered.
9. Lonely Boys
Any punk-rock fans out there? If that’s you, make sure you give The Lonely Boys, a band from Ngukurr in the Northern Territory, a listen. The six-piece group first arrived on the Australian music scene after winning the Barunga Festival battle of the bands in 2006 and are perhaps best known for their hit song “Murray Island,” which won the Northern Territory’s Rock Song of the Year in 2016.