To mark NAIDOC Week (2 – 9 July) – which recognises and celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia – we shine a spotlight on 5 extraordinarily talented Indigenous artists, all of whom are releasing brilliant music, openly sharing their personal stories through song and kicking major career goals to boot.
Need new tunes to listen to? Maybe something inspiring? If King Stingray, Mo’Ju, Kee’ahn, Bumpy and Budjera are already on your radar, revisiting their outstanding catalogues will obviously be such a treat. But if you’re not across any/all of the below recommendations, we’re actually kinda jealous of the new music-related revelations that await you.

King Stingray

This year’s National NAIDOC Week theme is “For Our Elders” and two members of King Stingray, frontman Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu (whose name translates to ‘place of stingray’) and guitarist Roy Kellaway, are descendants of Yothu Yindi: the nephew of Dr M Yunupiŋu, the ground-breaking musical collective’s late frontman, and the son of bassist Stu Kellaway respectively – music is in their blood and both of these boys have been jamming onstage with Yothu Yindi since they were toddlers, before eventually becoming official touring members in 2017.

King Stingray is composed of six Yolŋu (First Nations) and balanda (non-Indigenous) mates. They sing in both English and Yolŋu Matha, the native language of the band’s Yolŋu contingent. Some members of this band have been recording songs at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre, a recording studio in Yirrkala, as part of The Mulka Project, which is run by Arian Ganambarr-Pearson, since they were kids.

So far this year King Stingray have won the Australian Music Prize for their debut, self-titled album; showcased at SXSW in Austin, Texas; sold out two all-ages shows at Sidney Myer Music Bowl; performed Down Under (Under One Sun) – their version of Men At Work’s Down Under – alongside Colin Hay himself at the APRA Music Awards plus so much more – they’re unstoppable!  

King Stingray’s new single Lookin’ Out – the first new material since their acclaimed self-titled debut record – has just dropped as well and, according to Kellaway, it’s about “finding those little peaceful moments” amongst the mayhem. “We are a band from a small place and we’re singing about big things!” he acknowledges.


This Naarm-based musician, songwriter, storyteller and third culture kid (Filipino/Wiradjuri) has been making music since 2012 and, after pouring their heart into their art for a decade, they actually considered giving it all away at one point. 

Fortunately for us, Mo’Jo (who previously released music under the Mojo Juju moniker) decided to persevere, because earlier this year they released a magnum opus in their fourth album Oro, Plata, Mata. 

Oro, Plata, Mata shares its title with a 1982 historical war drama that Mo’Ju’s late Tito (uncle) Peque Gallaga directed and is separated into three chapters by brief introductory interludes narrated by Mo’Ju’s Tita (aunt) Madie Gallaga. Following their grandfather’s passing, Mo’Ju has said that writing music helped. Becoming a parent during these tumultuous times also shifted their perspective. It’s an important record and Mo’Ju’s lyrics are laced with hope (see: Change Has To Come): “I believe in us/ Rising above hatred/ I believe that love/ Love will elevate us/ But change has to come…”


Kee’ahn’s name derives from a term the Wik people use, which means to dance, to play. And by creating and performing soulful music that never pulls focus away from those exquisite pipes, Kee’ahn honours their ancestors.

From our very first time hearing Kee’ahn’s outstanding, soul-drenched debut single Better Things (2020), we’ve been absolutely obsessed! This song was mixed, mastered and released during lockdown, which Kee’ahn – a proud Yalanji, Jirrbal, Badu islander artist from North Queensland – wasn’t actually mad about, instead relishing this opportunity to walk into the music industry slowly rather than being flung under the spotlight and swamped with promo commitments and the like. They actually reckon Better Things particularly resonated with listeners during this time because “everyone was online and needing a bit of optimism”.  

As one of three First Nations artists selected by triple j Unearthed to collaborate on a track for NAIDOC week in 2020, Kee’ahn teamed up with Gamilaroi rapper Kobie Dee and River Boy from the Northern Rivers to create Sunrise – remotely, in separate studios and in just one week! Also that year, Kee’ahn won the Archie Roach Foundation Award at the National Indigenous Music Awards as well as the Archie Roach Foundation Award for Emerging Talent at the Music Victoria Awards.

We definitely recommend you wrap your ears around Kee’ahn’s most recent release Sunsets (co-written and produced by Alice Ivy) sharpish as well.

News just in: As part of uncle Archie Roach’s first Singing Our Futures program, which provides mentorship support for emerging First Nations artists, Kee’ahn was teamed up with the peerless Emma Donovan. They collabed on a track, Take No More, which will be released on Monday 3 July (or the first day of “blakfulla Christmas” [NAIDOC Week] according to Kee’ahn’s Insta post). Take No More is also the lead single from Kee’ahn’s upcoming debut EP.


“I feel those stories that we couldn’t speak of/ And I feel your power flowing through my blood/ But I don’t know my native tongue…” – as these poignant lyrics from her guitar-driven, strings-enhanced song Return Home aptly demonstrate, Bumpy takes pride in composing songs that are honest, raw and real.

In 2022, Bumpy took out triple j Unearthed’s National Indigenous Music Awards competition and performed live at the NIMA awards ceremony in Darwin. She’s also the latest recipient of Music Victoria’s Archie Roach Foundation Award For Emerging Talent and the millisecond your ears tune into the airy wonderment of this Noongar artist’s timbre, you’ll be hooked. As well as self-producing and releasing solo output – her debut Morning Sun EP (2023) is intoxicating; we’re talking Martina Topley-Bird-level artistry – Bumpy also fronts the neo-soul outfit Squid Nebula.

Bumpy’s wow-factor vocal runs need to be heard to be believed (see: her latest single, Hide & Seek!). 


We’ll never forget that time when this extremely talented Coodjinburra man from the Bundjalung nation welled-up during his speech while accepting the Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist ARIA Award in 2021. “Oh, I didn’t expect to cry, but I’m crying and I sound weird,” he observed as many viewers at home wondered why their eyes had suddenly started leaking. Then in 2022, Budjerah took out the Best Soul/R&B Release ARIA Award for his second EP, Conversations. Budjerah’s Matt Corby-penned song, was also awarded Most Performed R&B/Soul Work at the APRA Awards last year. 
Budjerah considers himself a gospel singer, first and foremost, and his star just continues to rise. He featured on Ed Sheeran’s track 2Step (which has attracted 7 million-plus streams to date!) and while supporting the former busker on his Australian stadium tour earlier this year, Budjerah performed in his biggest venues to date. Budjerah has also previously supported Vance Joy in Australia, North American and the UK. He’s collaborated with PNAU (Stranger Love) and MAY-A (Talk) as well and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for Budjerah.