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Australia's Indigenous artists weave traditions into contemporary music

Once-neglected tongues and instruments are being increasingly embraced

Indigenous artist Emily Wurramara writes and sings in both English and Anindilyakwa. (Photo by Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore)

MELBOURNE -- In the 21st century, the songs of an increasing number of First Nations Australians walk between two worlds: the streaming world of Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Music, and ancestral languages that, in some cases, can be traced back 12,000 years.

From rap, reggae, R&B and rock through jazz, funk and soul, there is a growing eclecticism and adventurism in the genre-hopping sound of contemporary First Nations music. Many have in common an embrace of ancestral language, weaving elements of the 250 existing Indigenous languages and 800 dialects into their verses and choruses.

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