B2M member passes away aged 59
Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains discussion of a person who has died.
A member of First Nations R&B vocal band B2M passed away on January 5 after heart complications earlier this week. He was aged 59.
The act comes from the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory, with their name Bathurst To Melville referencing the two islands.
The death of the musician, whose name is suppressed due to cultural sensitivities, was confirmed by the band’s record company, the Darwin-based Skinnyfish Music
Its managing director Mark Grose described him as senior member, visual artist and cultural consultant and “the heart of B2M, a quiet but powerful influence on the band”.
“His sense of humour always had everyone laughing and his cultural guidance was essential when including Tiwi traditional content in B2M’s songs.
“He was greatly loved by everyone who met him and he will be greatly missed by those that love him.”
B2M formed in 2004 in Nguiu on Bathurst, with the intention of “giving young people a voice”, addressing issues as drugs, depression, alcohol and suicide as well as opening them up to the sea-faring culture of their ancestors and the importance of community spirit.
Their debut album Home was released in 2015, and included the single ‘Palingarri’, which means dreamtime or “a long time ago”.
The ancient chant at the beginning of the song had not been heard beyond the Tiwi Islands and included approval of Tiwi elders.
Over the years B2M toured Shanghai, East Timor, Taiwan, Ireland and Indonesia creating cross-cultural connections with other Indigenous groups.
The Taiwan trip inspired their Project Songlines, which involves mixing traditional ancient Tiwi chants with those of other Indigenous cultures.
In 2018 they embarked on their final Australian tour, which took in 23 shows and 15 workshops.