Deadly. It sounds dangerous, but last night it was a word indigenous performers, sportspeople and community workers were happy to hear.
The Deadlys are the National Indigenous Music, Sport, Entertainment and Community Awards, presented at the Sydney Opera House last night.
“That’s a blackfella word. It’s the ultimate praise anyone can give you,” performer Leah Purcell said.
And if awards are anything to go by, the Cairns-based pop singers Simone Stacey and Naomi Wenatong are definitely deadly.
The duo, known as Shakaya, were named band of the year and most promising new talent, and won the awards for single release and music video of the year.
“We both grew up listening to a lot of American stuff. We wanted to do similar stuff but in an Australian way,” Wenatong said. “We have been influenced by our own families. My parents have been in bands, and my brother as well.”
Their influence has spread beyond northern Queensland. Their first single, Stop Calling Me, has gone platinum, and their second, Sublime, has reached gold.
They are planning an overseas tour at some stage but, for the moment, they are happy to be Cairns’s claim to fame. “We got lots of new best friends. But we don’t care; we love people. It’s amazing the support we’ve had there,” Stacey said.
Another big winner last night was musician Archie Roach, who was named male artist of the year, and whose Sensual Being was named album of the year. Toni Janke was named female artist of the year, and Jimmy Little was named country artist of the year.
When the Deadlys started in 1995, at the Boomalli Artist Co-operative in Redfern, the awards were just for music. Now a range of endeavours is recognised.
A touch footballer, Bo De La Cruz, was named sportswoman of the year, and the Cronulla Sharks rugby league captain, David Peachey, won the sportsman’s award.
The Deadly for excellence in a film or theatrical score was shared by David Page and Steve Francis for their work on the Bangarra Dance Theatre’s performance of Skin. Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council was recognised for outstanding achievement in health.
It was also a night for partying, Purcell said. “We call them blackouts, where a big mob’s together.”