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Jimmy Little: Google Doodle is celebrating an Australian Aboriginal musician

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Google Doodle is celebrating Dr. James “Jimmy” Oswald Little, an Australian Aboriginal musician, actor, and teacher from the Yorta Yorta people, on May 27, 2022.

Who was Jimmy Little?

Dr James Jimmy Oswald Little
Dr. James “Jimmy” Oswald Little

James Oswald Little was born on 1 March 1937, on the Cummeragunja Mission Station, an Indigenous Australian reserve situated in New South Wales, a member of the Yorta individuals with his mother, Frances, a Yorta woman, and his father, James Little Sr, from the Yuin people. He was brought up in the Cummeragunja Reserve, New South Wales.

Jimmy Little’s totem is the long-necked turtle. During the 1930s and 1940s, Jimmy Little Sr. was a tap dancer, comedian, musician, and singer who led his own vaudeville troupe along the Murray River. His mother was a singer and yodeller who had joined Jimmy Sr.’s troupe.

At 13 years old, Jimmy Little was given a guitar and within a year he was playing at local concerts. At the point when 16 years of age he traveled to Sydney to perform on a radio program, Australia’s Amateur Hour.

In 1955, Jimmy Little left home to reside in Sydney and seek a career in country music, he was influenced by Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, and Jim Reeves. His smooth style acquired him the nicknames of “the Balladeer”, “Gentleman Jim” and “the Honey Voice”.

From 1951, Jimmy Little had a career as a singer-songwriter and guitarist, which spanned six decades. In 1955, Little left home to seek after his fantasies about becoming a musician in Sydney. His recording career started the next year, and his breakout hit song “Royal Telephone” became the first song by an Indigenous Australian to hit number one on the pop music charts in 1963.

In 1956, Jimmy Little signed with Regal Zonophone Records and released his first single, “Mysteries of Life”/”Heartbreak Waltz”. In 1958, Little married fellow singer, Marjorie Rose Peters. By late 1959, Little was living in Granville with his wife and their daughter Frances Claire – he released the single, “Frances Claire” when she was a year and a half old.

For many years he was the main Aboriginal star on the Australian music scene. His music was influenced by Nat King Cole and American country music artist Jim Reeves. His gospel song “Royal Telephone” (1963) sold more than 75,000 copies and his most famous album, Messenger, peaked at No. 26 in 1999 on the ARIA Albums Chart.

“Royal Telephone” sold over 75,000 copies — a platinum accomplishment by the present guidelines that procured him the title of Australian Pop Star of the Year in 1964. Little likewise started acting during this era and became a household recognized name through national tours, radio playtime, and TV appearances into the 1970s.

By the 1980s, Jimmy Little started to use his influence to mentor Indigenous youth and advocate for literacy and health programs all through the rest of his career.

At the ARIA Music Awards of 1999, Jimmy Little was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and won an ARIA Award for Best Adult Contemporary Album. On Australia Day (26 January) 2004, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia with the reference, “For service to the entertainment industry as a singer, recording artist and songwriter and to the community through reconciliation and as an ambassador for Indigenous culture”. Likewise that year he was named a Living National Treasure.

As an actor, Jimmy Little showed up in the movies Shadow of the Boomerang (1960) and Until the end of the World (1991), in the theater production Black Cockatoos, and the opera Black River. As a teacher, from 1985, he worked at the Eora Center in Redfern, and from 2000 was a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Koori Center.

Jimmy Little was a diabetic with a heart condition and, in 2004, had a kidney transplant. After his transplant, he established the Jimmy Little Foundation to promote indigenous health and diet.

In June 2005, on the last day of National Reconciliation Week, Jimmy Little and composer Peter Sculthorpe were awarded honorary doctorates in music by the University of Sydney in recognition of “their joint contribution to reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians”. Other honorary doctorates have been awarded to Little by the Queensland University of Technology and Australian Catholic University.

Jimmy Little’s reevaluations of contemporary hits released on more than 29 albums procured him the title of one of the founding fathers of Australian country music, an achievement honored by his induction into Tamworth’s Country Music Roll of Renown. For his lifetime of advocacy for Indigenous people groups in Australia, he made three honorary doctorates and was named a National Living Treasure.

In 2010, Jimmy Little retired from performing. Marjorie died in July 2011. On 2 April 2012 Little died of natural causes in Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia, aged 75 years.

In 2005 at The Deadly Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music was named the Jimmy Little Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music.

On May 27, 2022, Google featured a Doodle on its homepage for celebrating Jimmy Little.

The present Google Doodle delineated by guest artist Dixon Patten — a traditional descendant from the Gunnai, Yorta, Gunditjmara, and Dhuduroa people—celebrates Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and advocate Dr. James “Jimmy” Oswald Little.

Over a renowned 60-year career, Jimmy Little championed the music, health, and education of Indigenous Australian communities as a cultural ambassador and musical sensation. On this day in 2003, Little was awarded the Red Ochre Award for his lifelong contribution to the recognition of Indigenous arts in Australia and around the world.

Today, Jimmy Little’s legacy lives on through the work of the Jimmy Little Foundation, an association he established in 2006 fully intent on promoting health, education, and access to opportunity in Indigenous Australian communities.

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