‘Standing Strong Mudburra Man’ nominated for NIMA Album of the Year

‘Standing Strong Mudburra Man’ nominated for NIMA Album of the Year

Mudburra artist Ray Dimakarri Dixon’s debut album 'Standing Strong Mudburra Man', which was produced with assistance from RMIT’s School of Design, is a finalist for the 2020 National Indigenous Music Award’s Album of the Year.

The album beautifully oscillates between English and Mudburra – a language spoken by less than 50 people.

RMIT’s School of Design funded flights to Melbourne for Ray & Thelma Dixon, both powerful leaders, where Ray recorded the album in the basement of Building 6.

The connection came about through Moira Finucane and the theatre company Finucane & Smith, who’ve worked with the Dixon family for five years on projects including the internationally acclaimed Rapture Art vs Extinction live theatre works and remote concerts across the Northern Territory.

Finucane was working with composer Darrin Verhagen, Senior Lecturer in Digital Media, on her theatre work The Rapture: Art vs Extinction, when the funding to fly Dixon and his wife fell through.

Verhagen arranged with the School of Design and the Digital Media program to assist with Dixon’s travel expenses for the show when the idea of recording some of his music sprouted.

“Off that back of The Rapture II, we ended up getting a studio once the teaching season finished up,” Verhagen said.

“One of my students, Tom Harman, was the engineer ­– Ray did all the recording over a week, a whole bunch of other artists came on board and then I was working on pulling it all together, doing additional arrangements, and producing it with Moira Finucane.”

The end result is a heart-felt and passionate album that calls on his fellow citizens to protect the land against the mining industry.

Dixon lives in Marlinja community in the Northern Territory, 700km south of Darwin, where fracking threatens to devastate the land.

Mudburra Country Northern Territory, Dixon's home Mudburra Country Northern Territory, Dixon's home (courtesy of Brakly Arts NT)

“Me and my family, we’re standing strong and saying ‘that’s not right’. We stand against fracking and we want to look after the environment and this country,” Dixon said.

“I was writing songs in English, but then I thought that being a strong Mudburra man that it’s better for my country to give my message to my people from my language.

“We don’t want to lose that culture. We want to keep it strong,” he said.

Dixon encourages people across Australia to stand strong in solidarity against mining and fracking across the Northern Territory.

“You can support people like myself – people who are standing strong. There’s also an outfit called Lock the Gate that comes out to country and helps us,” he said.

Dixon said the opportunity to record his album with RMIT and amplify his messages was life changing.

“That was an honour for me. For RMIT to get me there, that was the biggest thing in my life” he said.

“With the whole album recorded there, it was so special.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Hopefully we’ll do another album in the future,” he said.

Verhagen said the opportunity to record Dixon’s album was a no-brainer.

“Any way of raising attention or broadening the base of that attention is something that’s worthwhile,” Verhagen said.

“Alongside the political agenda is the opportunity just to help someone who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the opportunities and technology we have at RMIT.

“It was something we really wanted to do.”

Dixon joins a suite of talented Indigenous artists nominated for the Album of The Year, including Archie Roach – Tell Me Why, Jessica Mauboy – Hilda, Mau Power – Blue Lotus The Awakening, and Miiesha – Nyaaringu.

The awards will be broadcast on NITV and simulcast across the country on Facebook, DoubleJ, NIRS, Twitter and Youtube on 8 August.


Story: Caleb Scanlon


  • Society
  • Design
  • Indigenous
  • Arts and culture

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.