• Broome icon, Stephen 'Baamba' Alberts has sadly passed away. (ABC)
The legendary Broome musician was well-known for his appearance and contribution to the original version of 'Bran Nue Dae' as well as performing alongside Mary G.
By
Rangi Hirini

14 Nov 2019 - 11:34 AM  UPDATED 15 Nov 2019 - 4:17 PM

Celebrated performer and West Australian icon Stephen 'Baamba' Alberts sadly passed away on Wednesday in his hospital bed in Perth.

Baamba was best known for his appearance in the original stage production of Bran Nue Dae and starred alongside comedian Mary G on her TV show. 

In a family statement his son, Michael Albert, thanked and acknowledged family and friends and said his father lived a colourful life "which has enriched those around him."

The family said the passing of the 69-year-old will affect the entire community. 

Although many knew him for his comedic ways and musical talent, Baamba was also a strong advocate for Indigenous media, music, and the arts in the Kimberley region.

Born in 1950 at the ‘Native Hospital' in Broome, Baamba's childhood in the coastal town in WA’s top end later became the inspiration for his musical style.

His aunties and uncles, who once performed in a 42-piece orchestra, filled Baamba's childhood with violins, guitars and piano accordion.

In 1968, Baamba started his musical career with the band, Broome Beats, and slowly became the local entertainer, performing a mixture of early rock'n'roll, jazz and country-western. 

From an apprenticeship as a diesel fitter, Baamba's passion to improve education standards for Indigenous students eventually led him to Canberra where he became the inaugural chairman of the National Aboriginal Education Committee. 

For two decades Baamba worked away from his Country, and upon returning in the 1980s rediscovered his passion for music and helped out fellow Broome legend, Jimmy Chi with artistic contributions to two of Chi’s original musicals, Bran Nue Dae and Corrugation Road. 

For the past five decades, Baamba performed for audiences across the country, sharing stories of pearl divers, gambling houses, beautiful women, and tales of his beloved hometown of Broome.

Younger audiences knew Baamba for his appearances in the late 90s on the Mary G Show alongside the self-proclaimed ‘Black Queen of the Kimberley'. 

Baamba was also one of the founders of the Broome Aboriginal Media Association which led to the development of Goolarri Media Enterprises,  an organisation that continues to produce Kimberley-based content for film, radio and television.

He is survived by his three children, Stephanie, Michael and Joesph, his three sisters and two brothers, and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.