Jessica Mauboy, King Stingray & More Celebrate The 20th Anniversary Of The NIMAs

10 July 2024 | 11:30 am | Mary Varvaris

Jessica Mauboy, King Stingray, and more discuss the impact of the National Indigenous Music Awards this NAIDOC Week.

Jessica Mauboy, King Stingray

Jessica Mauboy, King Stingray (Source: Supplied, Maclay Heriot)

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2024 marks the 20th anniversary of the National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs), with a milestone ceremony earmarked for Saturday, 10 August, at the stunning Darwin Amphitheatre.

Back in May, nominations for this year’s awards opened – you can nominate your favourite First Nations artists here. In late June, organisers revealed just how special this year’s NIMAs would be, dropping a fantastic performers’ line-up.

Leading the performance bill is Jessica Mauboy, who released her latest album, Yours Forever, earlier this year. She’ll be joined by an incredible roster of artists, including supergroup 3% (Angus Field, Nooky and Dallas Woods), Dan Sultan, and more.

The performers’ line-up also stars Miss Kaninna, Emily Wurramara, Birdz and Fred Leone, and Arrkula Yinbayarra (Together We Sing) feat. Dr Shellie Morris AO, and Eleanor Dixon Trio.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the NIMAs and the awards’ impact on Indigenous artists, Mauboy, Dallas Woods from 3%, Birdz, Fred Leone, and Dima Burarrwanga from King Stingray have reflected on its legacy this NAIDOC Week.

Here’s what those artists had to say about this year’s NIMAs:

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What does the legacy of 20 years of the National Indigenous Awards mean to you?

Dallas Woods: NIMAs, 20 years strong, is a testament to the power of blak music. Kudos to Music NT for putting on an incredible event for the mob to come together and celebrate our craft, artistry, storytelling, and culture. It is such a special venue and special place in Larrakia country.

Dima Burarrwanga: Acknowledging all the nominees that came before us. Celebrating Indigenous songwriters and artists representing their own country and people.

Jessica Mauboy: 20 years is just incredible! What an amazing milestone for the NIMAs. I’m so proud to share that I’ve been to many of these special nights over the years, and I have so many fond memories of being there with family and friends.

I always look forward to celebrating First Nations artists and all the hard work being done in the creative space. I'm thrilled to be performing at this year's event, marking such an important milestone in celebrating Indigenous music.

Fred Leone: For me, the legacy of the National Indigenous Music Awards has left over the past 20 years is the care and nurture that the Awards take in acknowledging our past legends whilst also shining a national light on new and emerging artists. 

Birdz: Blak music in this country is stronger than it's ever been, and it feels like we’re only just getting started. It’s so important that we have a platform like the NIMAS to support and amplify our voices. I’m looking forward to seeing it grow for another 20 and beyond.

What have some of your favourite NIMA moments been over the years?

Jessica Mauboy: One of my favourite moments was when I was in the amphitheatre watching Yothu Yindi perform. I was up on the hills with my fam, looking down into the theatre, and when Treaty was performed, everyone rushed to the stage. It felt like the whole mob just transformed into a mosh pit, and we were all together as one in that moment. It was an absolutely euphoric feeling.

Birdz: Getting to perform Bagi-la-m Bargan live on stage with Fred [Leone] is a definite career highlight - I can’t wait to do it again. Also, as a territory kid, it was pretty special being able to witness Yothu Yindi live on the NIMAS stage.

Fred Leone: Last year being the co-host and inducting Yothu Yindi into the National Indigenous Music Awards Hall of Fame.

Dima Burarrwanga: Just meeting up with families and artists at the event and enjoying the music.

Dallas Woods: Our favourite NIMA moment was Uncle Archie [Roach] getting honoured and put into the Hall Of Fame. Dallas Woods received the Community Video of the Year award with Ngukurr Community and seeing how much joy that brought to the young and elders shining a light on this beautiful remote community. Seeing the event grow from a live festival to securing the National broadcast made it inclusive for all tribes around Australia and wider community.

Tickets to this year’s National Indigenous Music Awards ceremony are on sale now via the Darwin Festival website.