Despite 2021 being a tough year for many, the year has also seen First Nations creative talent continue to grow and gain recognition and appreciation from mainstream audiences. This recognition saw young Indigenous artists winning ARIAS and achieving international record deals, as well as talented Indigenous designers, models and dancers being featured in an all-Indigenous runway show at Melbourne Fashion Week! So, as we come into the new year, we would like to acknowledge and celebrate some rising Indigenous stars to look out for in 2022.
Aretha Brown in front of her finalised mural created in collaboration with Converse. Courtesy of Converse, 2021.
Aretha Brown is a Melbourne based artist hailing from the Gumbaynggirr Nation, the people of the mid-north coast of New South Wales. At just 20 years old, Brown has gained national recognition for her incredible murals and activism work. Through her works, she explores themes of place, identity, culture and the experiences of Blak women. Her bold monochromatic artworks feature pop culture references and encourage conversations about Aboriginality, such as her mural (featured above) that was created in collaboration with Converse to encourage conversation around urban Aboriginality (Converse, 2021).
Brown’s activism work goes beyond just her artworks. At only 16 years old, she delivered a passionate speech at Melbourne's Invasion Day Rally. This led to her becoming the first female and youngest person to become prime minister for the National Indigenous Youth Parliament. Aretha Brown’s incredible works have hung on the walls of the National Gallery of Victoria, and they can be seen on street art murals around Australia and on her famous ‘Teach Blak History’ tees (Canberra Times, 2021).
If you’d like to learn more about Aretha Brown and her works, check out our previous post Aretha Brown’s Environmentally-friendly Mural Encourages Conversation about Blak History and follow her on Instagram @_enterthedragon_.
‘Wash My Sorrows Away’ Budjerah debut EP. Courtesy of Budjerah’s Twitter (Elliot Lauren Ryan), 2021.
19-year-old singer-songwriter Budjerah is one of Australia’s biggest up and coming RnB/Soul artists. Budjerah is a Coodjinburra man of the Bundalung nation, and grew up in the small north-east NSW town of Fingal Head/Booninybah. He was born into a household full of music, and spent the majority of his childhood singing in church and playing in family bands. This had a tremendous influence on his music, in which you can hear influences of gospel and soul (Cool Accidents, 2020).
2021 saw his musical career take off, as he signed to the major label Warner Records US, won an ARIA Award and was selected for Youtube’s #YouTubeBlack Voices Artist Class of 2022. Budjerah has also opened the stage for some of Australia’s biggest acts including The Avalanches, Lime Cordiale, Thelma Plum and Matt Corby (NME, 2021). At an incredibly young age, Budjerah has achieved such tremendous success!
If you’d like to learn more about Budjerah, check out our previous post Australia’s Next Superstar Budjerah, Modernising the Sound of R’n’b and Soul and follow him on Instagram @budjerah.
Flewnt performed at Hale School’s NAIDOC Week Assembly. Courtesy of Flewnt’s Facebook, 2021.
Noongar and Wongi man Joshua Eggington, otherwise known as Flewnt, is a talented hip-hop artist and activist. Flewnt uses his music as a way of empowering and educating Indigenous youth and the wider Australian community about culture and race (Pile TV, 2020). His song ‘Kya Kyana,’ a celebration of Noongar culture, won him the 2018/2019 WA NAIDOC Music Awards for Best Song and Best Hip-Hop Song. When he isn’t performing, Flewnt runs hip-hop workshops for Indigenous high school kids. Through these workshops, Flewnt provides students with a way to express their struggles and anxieties, and also connect with culture (The Perth Voice, 2018). This year he teamed up with Headspace for Visible, a project all about making mental health more visible to the public. For the project, Flewnt wrote the moving song ‘Desert Rose.’
If you’d like to learn more about Flewnt, check out our previous post Flewnt: Educating and Empowering the Next Generation through Hip-Hop or our interview with him A Yarn with Flewnt: Noongar Wongi hip-hop artist and activist. You can also find his Instagram here @flewnt_mc.
‘Made for Silence’ Miiesha's second 2021 single. Courtesy of Miiesha's Twitter (Cole Bennetts), 2021.
Proud Anangu and Torres Strait Islander woman Miiesha is an incredibly talented singer and songwriter. She grew up in the small Aboriginal community of Woorabinda singing with her family, and began developing her songwriting skills as a teenager. In 2020, she released her debut collection of songs titled ‘Nyaarignu’ which means ‘what happened’ in the Pitjantjatjara language. Miiesha’s songs explore stories of strength, passed down from her late grandmother. ‘Nyaarignu’ gained widespread recognition, receiving the 2020 ARIA for Best Soul/RnB Release, a QLD Music Award as well as a NIMA Award! Miiesha’s music not only tells stories of family, but also of the Indigenous experience as a whole (Cult Mag, 2021). Her single ‘Black Privilege,’ released in 2019, talks about the ongoing realities of colonialism and intergenerational trauma (NME, 2020). Through her latest two singles ‘Damaged’ and ‘Made For Silence,’ Miiesha continues to explore her relationship with her roots and family (Refinery29, 2021). You can check out Miiesha’s incredible music videos for these songs here.
If you’d like to learn more about Miiesha and show her some support, you can find her Instagram here @miieshaofficial.
Here at Yarn, we are passionate about supporting Indigenous artists by showcasing their talent and sharing how they give back to their communities. There are so many incredible Indigenous creatives, and it is well and truly time that Australia recognises and celebrates their talent and accomplishments. In the coming year, support these rising stars and keep your eyes peeled for other up and coming talent!