Jimmy Little (1937 – 2012) musician, singer, songwriter
Jimmy Little declared that deep Christian beliefs guided his life. In 1959 he appeared in evangelist Bill Graham’s movie ‘Shadow Of The Boomerang.’ Little scored his biggest hit with “Royal Telephone,” which peaked at number one in Sydney and number three in Melbourne.
Jimmy Little was born in 1937 on the Cummeragunga settlement near Echuca, on the New South Wales side of the Murray River. His father Jimmy Little Sr. preceded him as an aboriginal entertainment legend, a singer who led his own vaudeville troupe up and down the Murray in the 30s and 40. Jimmy Little Sr’s repertoire consisted of hundreds of songs from every possible source – hymns he’d learned at the mission, hillbilly songs, show tunes, bush ballads and traditional tribal. The younger Jimmy Little just followed in his footsteps.
Jimmy first went to Sydney as a teenager, and at the age of 17 cut his first 78, ‘Mysteries Of Life’ in 1954. After five more releases for Regal Zonophone Jimmy released two singles for EMI’s Columbia label, the second being a song written by his father, ‘Give The Coloured Boy A Chance’, the first song of its type in Australian music. The original white Jimmy Little Trio made way for an aboriginal line-up. If he was a novelty, he wasn’t hiding his true heritage. Jimmy was also declaring the deep Christian beliefs which guided his life. In 1959 he also appeared in evangelist Bill Graham’s movie ‘Shadow Of The Boomerang.’
Source : http://www.howlspace.com.au/en/littlejimmy/littlejimmy.htm
Jimmy Little taught and mentored indigenous music students at the Eora Centre in Redfern from 1985 and was an ambassador for literacy and numeracy for the Department of Education from 2002.
He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours of 2004. He was named a Living National Treasure in 2004. Little and the composer Peter Sculthorpe were awarded an honorary doctorate in music in recognition of “their joint contribution to reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians”.
In 2004 Jimmy was diagnosed with kidney failure and after two years of self-administered dialysis he received a life saving kidney transplant. The experience led him to launch the Jimmy Little Foundation to help the many other indigenous Australians who are succumbing to kidney disease. The Foundation works with patients in regional and remote Australia and now the JLF is partnering with the Fred Hollows Foundation to develop a nutrition and education program for indigenous children to help stem the ever increasing cycle of bad nutrition leading to diabetes that can lead to kidney failure.
Little was awarded the 2010 APRA Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music. “Royal Telephone” was featured in the SBS documentary, “Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music” (2000) and its accompanying CD.
Jimmy Little dies, aged 75
The Jimmy Little Foundation website : http://www.jlf.org.au/
Influential Australian aboriginal Christians
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