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Jimmy Little, Dubbo Reconciliation Group Event
, 2000

by Mervyn Bishop

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 50.8 cm x 30.4 cm, image: 38.7 cm x 26.0 cm)

Jimmy Little AO (1937-2012), singer, made his recording debut in 1956. Australia’s first indigenous pop star, Little was one of a handful of well-known Aboriginal people by the late 1950s. After a national number one hit, ‘Royal Telephone’, he was named Pop Star of the Year in 1964. Over the 1970s, by which time he had gained the nickname ‘Gentleman Jim’, Little’s popularity lapsed, and he went on the club circuit. In a characteristically low-key resurgence, he won the Mo award in 1997 and in 1999 his album Messenger - featuring covers of songs by The Cruel Sea, Nick Cave, Paul Kelly and The Church - won an ARIA Award for Best Adult Contemporary Album. He was named Best Male Artist at the Deadly Awards the same year. At 64 he released his 29th album, Resonate (2001), which featured songs by artists such as Kelly, Bernard Fanning and Dave Graney. Named a Living National Treasure, Little received two honorary doctorates and won the Classic Rock Performer Mo Award following the release of his 34th album, Life’s what you make it, in 2004.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2001
Accession number: 2001.177