Gurrumul to be inducted into National Indigenous Music Awards’ Hall of Fame

The NIMAs' first in-person awards ceremony since 2019 will take place in Darwin this weekend

Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander readers are advised that this story contains the name and image of a person who has died.

Gurrumul will be honoured at this weekend’s National Indigenous Music Awards, with the legendary Yolŋu musician – also referred to as Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu – inducted into the Awards’ hall of fame.

This Saturday (August 6), the NIMAs will pay tribute to the late musician during their ceremony at Darwin Amphitheatre, with a special performance from Gurrumul’s fellow founding Saltwater Band member, Manuel Dhurrkay. Gurrumul joins previous hall of fame inductees including his former band, Yothu Yindi, along with Warumpi Band, Archie Roach, Kev Carmody and Roger Knox.


Gurrumul’s legacy will also be celebrated tomorrow night (August 4) with the first Darwin performance of ‘Buŋgul’, a live performance based on the singer-songwriter’s final album ‘Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow)’, featuring the Darwin Symphony Orchestra. Gurrumul’s induction into the hall of fame will also be celebrated with an exhibit at Melbourne’s Australian Music Vault from this Friday (August 5).

Gurrumul performing in 2009
Gurrumul performing in 2009. Credit: Barney Britton/Redferns

Gurrumul was born in 1971, and taught himself how to play guitar from a young age. He found commercial success and critical acclaim both as a member of Yothu Yindi and Saltwater Band, and with his solo career. He recorded four solo albums, beginning with his self-titled 2008 debut and ending with ‘Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow)’, which arrived posthumously in 2018, a year after his death.

In addition, this year’s NIMAs will also honour the life of Archie Roach. The celebrated Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung) and Bundjalung songman passed away on Saturday (July 30) at the age of 66, following a long period of illness.

This weekend’s ceremony will mark the NIMAs’ first in-person event since 2019. The 2020 Awards took place virtually, while last year, the ceremony was reimagined as a two-hour radio special on triple j hosted by Blak Out presenter Nooky.

Leading the nominations this year are Barkaa, Baker Boy, Thelma Plum and King Stingray, with the likes of The Kid LAROI, Jessica Mauboy, Electric Fields, Miiesha and Roach also up for awards. Performers on the evening will include Thelma Plum, King Stingray, Emma Donovan & the Putbacks, Birdz, Fred Leone, Yirrmal, J-MILLA and Bumpy.


“After a two year hiatus it’s very exciting to be bringing the NIMAs back to the Darwin Amphitheatre on Larrakia Country,” said NIMA Creative Director Ben Graetz of the ceremony’s return to a live format earlier this year.

“I’m thrilled to see such an extraordinary list of finalists this year and cannot wait for live performances from some of our most powerful First Nations musicians,” he continued. “This year is all about coming together and celebrating as one big community.”