Since 2011, the annual Queensland Music Awards have been greatly success in raising the profile of that State’s music industry. Part of that success owes to the emphasis these awards have given to cultural diversity, and their inclusion of an Indigenous Award that has recognised artists such as Emily Wurramara, Luke Peacock and The Medics.
This year, First Nations artists were heavily represented in the QMAs. The awards night took place in Brisbane’s impressive new Fortitude Music Hall on Brunswick Street Mall, and the Indigenous Award went to Thursday Island hip-hop artist, Mau Power for his song Arrived in his new album Blue Lotus The Awakening. Featuring additional vocals from fellow Indigenous singer-songwriter Marcus Corowa from Bowen, Queensland, it is a powerful rallying call for Torres Strait Islander people and Indigenous communities around the country. Power’s previous work includes an remake of Christine Anu’s Island Home and an inspiring anthemic song, Freedom, featuring Archie Roach. He is also founding director of One Blood Hidden Image Entertainment Group, which is the first Torres Strait full-service audio and film production company.
Album of the Year went to singer-songwriter-guitarist Thelma Plum from Delungra, NSW, for her memorable debut album Better in Blak. Its title track is a punchy, catchy song that powerfully takes on identity politics. A magnetic personality with a dark hued voice, Plum was a previous winner in the QMAs in 2013 and has received praise for songs such as Clumsy Love and Not Angry Anymore.
Unfortunately, Plum is right now in hospital having recently been diagnosed with coronavirus. Her situation highlights a potentially severe situation faced by Indigenous communities around Australia due to the threat of COVID-19 infection, and she has urged stronger support from government in protecting these and other disadvantaged communities.
Other Indigenous winners at the QMAs were Busby Marou (Rockhampton) in the Blues/Roots category, and Pitjantjatjara/Torres Strait Islander artist Miiesha for her song Drowning in the Remote award.