The Australian National University (ANU) has awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters (HonLittsD) to renowned singer/songwriter Kevin Carmody, recognising his exceptional contribution to the performing arts and his advocacy and promotion of Indigenous Knowledges, Storywork and Rights through storytelling and music.
Kevin’s personal connection with The Australian National University as an artist, activist and advocate has underscored the university’s commitment towards Australian First Nations communities, advancement, recognition, equity and social justice, benefitting not just Australian First Nations communities but broader Australian society.
With a career spanning over six decades, Kevin is called ‘Australia’s black Bob Dylan’ due to his politically charged and socially aware lyrics.
His first album Pillars of Society, released in 1987, is described as one of the most powerful protest albums.
Kevin’s composition with Paul Kelly From Little Things Big Things Grow tells the story of the Gurindji community’s Wave Hill Station Walk-Off in 1966 that created history and led to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam handing their land back symbolically. The song won Heritage Song of the Year at the 1994 Country Music Awards of Australia.
Over the years, Kevin, individually and with Paul Kelly, has mentored other First nations and non-Indigenous artists and performers. Their practice transcends entertainment and performance, their actions as oral historians mend folklore, law, and shared First nations and Australian lived experience, keeping these stories present and part of a continuing tradition.
“I am humbled and grateful to receive this Doctorate of Letters on behalf of all our Indigenous brothers and sisters past, present and future. Also, the recognition and relevance shown to the importance of oral history in Indigenous cultures. Thank you to the Australian National University and Professor Brenda Croft,” Kevin said.
“The significance (of being awarded the Honorary Doctorate) is the recognition that universities and academia in general now place on the contribution of our lived experience with our knowledge and wisdom dating back 10s of 1000s of years.”
Kevin remains keenly connected with ANU having just performed at an event in December 2022 featuring First Nations musicians. Keep up with Kevin’s work at kevcarmody.com.au