• Archie Roach performs at the National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMA) 2019 in Darwin (Supplied: David Hancock)Source: Supplied: David Hancock
The legendary songman took out the top spot on the countdown, which gives a platform for talented First Nations musicians to shine.
Mikele Syron

28 Jan 2021 - 10:00 AM  UPDATED 28 Jan 2021 - 10:00 AM

When Triple J’s Hottest 100 dropped on Sunday, only a small number of First Nations musicians were recognised.

So to celebrate the unique creative genius of Indigenous artists, the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association's 98.9fm announced its 'Original 100 Countdown' on January 26 for the fourth straight year.

Original 100 co-host Rhianna Patrick told NITV News that she was honoured to be a part of the event, that celebrated legendary artists but also gave a platform for emerging new talent.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians continue to tell our stories and experiences through the music that they create," she said.

"Although many have walked through those doors which were opened by others, there are still challenges that artists face in getting their music heard.”

Original 100 Countdown Top 10

1. Archie Roach “Took the children away”

Archie Roach rose to prominence in 1990 with the release of his signature hit "Took the children away" which arguably became the voice of the Stolen Generations. Unsurprisingly, the timeless ballad took out the countdown's coveted first place. Having been released at a time when an increased public awareness of Indigenous affairs was building, it has enjoyed sustained national popularity and recognition, with Roach continuing to use music as a means of telling his remarkable life story.

2. Thelma Plum “Better in Black”

The countdown recognised the resounding success of popular Gamilaraay singer-songwriter Thelma Plum, whose track expresses the journey of healing, and transforming pain and sadness via its potent lyrics. The triumphant title represents a moving proclamation of identity from an artist who is passionate about ensuring people stop taking colour out of the conversation.

3. Miiesha “Black Privilege”

Miiesha’s elegantly crafted hit track "Black Privilege" came in at third, with the deeper messages it communicates inciting a remarkable insight into the complexities of the individual Indigenous experience. Weaving together intensely personal and honest storytelling whilst simultaneously tackling the breadth of complex issues such as race, identity and self worth.

4. The Warumpi Band “My Island Home”

Often remembered for Christine Anu’s famed 1995 version of this hit track, this is a song that written by Neil Murray and originally performed by The Warumpi Band in 1987. It has long been considered one of the great soundtracks of Australia.

5. AB Original Dan Sultan “January 26”

An uncompromising, accessible and effective track which has moral force as a modern vehicle for the Indigenous tradition of oral history, “January 26” represents the annual frustration experienced by Indigenous Australians across the nation from the farce of a celebratory holiday taking place on Invasion Day.

6. The Warumpi Band “Blackfella/Whitefella”

Released in 1985, it is the impassioned lyrics of this soundtrack which make it a unique and concurrent cry for harmony, and protest for unity. The band communicated a vital sentiment while exposing the institutionalised racism many Indigenous Australians are subjected to across Australia.

7. Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly “From Little Things Big Things Grow”

Released in 1991, this song tells the inspiring story of the Gurinji peoples journey to attain equality and land rights in the era of the Wave Hill Walk Off in 1966, right through to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam symbolically handing their land back eight years later - an event which became a catalyst for the Aboriginal land rights movement. Since its release, it has become an iconic Australian protest song.

8. Coloured Stone “Black Boy”

Arguably emerging as Coloured Stones' most defining soundtrack, it was originally penned as a response to the racial tensions that the band's lead, Bunna Lawrie, had witnessed during his childhood. The song went on to contribute to the effort to heal and empower First Nations People through music.

9. The Tiddas “Anthem”

Known for their fierce, bold, and pioneering music, The Tiddas tell a powerful story using spine-tingling harmonies, with “Anthem” emerging as a prominent voice for Indigenous issues, demanding recognition and change for First Nations people.

10. Troy Cassar-Daley “Shadows on the hill”

The potent lyrics in Troy Cassar-Daley's widely acclaimed track make it a revolutionary means for sharing Indigenous history with the broader Australian community. The song tells the heartbreaking story of an Aboriginal massacre that happened to the Gumbaynggirr people in the 19th century.