Singer in Tiwi Islands R&B band B2M dies aged 59

Mr Orsto died from heart complications earlier this week

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains discussion of a person who has died.

Mr Orsto, a member of Tiwi Islands R&B band B2M, has died. He was 59.

Orsto died yesterday (January 5) from heart complications, according to a statement from B2M’s label Skinnyfish. He was both a senior member of and a cultural consultant to the band.

B2M – which means Bathurst to Melville, a reference to the two Tiwi Islands – formed in 2004 in their hometown of Nguiu on Bathurst. A R&B/pop vocal harmony group with a “Tiwi twist”, they sing about issues facing young people including drugs, alcohol and suicide.

As the lead singer, Jeffrey ‘Yello’ Simon, said, “We are giving the kids a voice through music.” After over a decade of touring, the six-piece group released their first album, ‘Home’, in 2015, which included the single ‘Palingarri’.

In addition to local shows, B2M have also toured China, East Timor, Taiwan, Ireland and Indonesia, creating cross-cultural works with other Indigenous groups across the world. Their largest and final Australia tour took place in 2018, with 23 shows and 15 workshops held across six states and territories.

In a statement, Skinnyfish head Mark Grose described Orsto as “the heart of B2M, a quiet but powerful influence on the band”.

“His sense of humour always had everyone laughing and his cultural guidance was essential when including Tiwi traditional content in B2M’s songs,” Grose said.

“He was greatly loved by everyone who met him and he will be greatly missed by those that love him.”