2019 NIMAs Hall of Fame to induct Tiddas & Wilma Reading
This Saturday’s National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs) are inducting two significant female acts into their Hall Of Fame – ‘90s gold-certified trio Tiddas and internationally renowned soul singer Wilma Reading.
Tiddas formed in 1990 by Lou Bennett, Sally Dastey and Amy Saunders, signing to PolyGram Records (now Universal Music).
They released their first EP Inside My Kitchen in 1992, going on to score two ARIA nominations.
Their seminal 1993 album Sing About Life achieved gold status and was followed up by a self-titled album produced by Joe Camilleri which debuted in the Top 30 in 1996.
They delivered their third album in 1997, before calling it a day in 2000 as one of the most successful First Nation acts of the ’90s.
Reading, based in Far North Queensland and a year short of her 80th birthday, was the first indigenous performer to achieve success abroad.
Beginning her career in 1959 singing for friends at the Brisbane Jazz Club before heading to the USA where she released singles, performed on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, toured with Duke Ellington held down a residency in New York’s famed Copacabana nightclub and played the London Palladium.
She performed across the world with orchestras, in movies (alongside Jim Brown in Pacific Inferno) and on TV across five continents.
“This is the first time two women acts have been inducted in the same year,” Music NT executive director Mark Smith told TMN.
“It’s such an honour for us to induct them, because they achieved so much, and a lot of it was under the radar.”
Smith remembers his band playing in Adelaide with Tiddas and being blown away by their musicianship.
Vicki Gordon, long-time artist manager and mentor of many First Nation artists, and now executive director of the Australian Women In Music Awards, says these trailblazers continue to inspire generations of singer songwriters and performers.
“Their contributions were extraordinary to the industry,” Gordon says.
“As we in the Australian Women In Music Awards say, you can’t be what you can’t see.
What Wilma achieved was remarkable, from a young age and performing with many of the international greats.
“With Tiddas, their 1994 album Sing About Life was absolutely ground breaking at a time when First Nation women were pretty much absent on the radar of the Australian music industry,
“Their songs resonated with everybody. Tiddas had a major impact not just on women but across the board.
“Their songwriting capacities were unbelievable.”
Reading will perform at the NIMAs, joining a lineup that includes Archie Roach, Jessica Mauboy, Dan Sultan, Electric Fields, Tasman Keith, the Spinifex Gum choir, Yorta Yorta soprano Deborah Cheetham, Larrakia nation’s Kenbi Dancers and violinist Eric Avery.
Tiddas could not perform due to schedules, but Dastey will be onstage as part of Roach’s band, and Saunders will be on hand for the induction.
The awards, under the stars at the Darwin Amphitheatre, had a record number of nominations this year, and ticket sales doubled from last year’s.
“I don’t think we’ll see such extraordinary group of performers on stage together again.”