Today’s Doodle, created by guest artist Dixon Patten, is dedicated to Indigenous Australian singer-songwriter, musician, actor, and advocate Dr. James “Jimmy” Oswald Little, who is a traditional descendant of the Gunnai, Yorta Yorta, Gunditjmara, and Dhuduroa people.
As a cultural ambassador and musical superstar, Little championed the music, health, and education of Indigenous Australian communities over the course of a 60-year career. Little received the Red Ochre Award for his lifetime commitment to the recognition of Indigenous arts in Australia and around the world on this day in 2003.
In 1937, James Oswald Little was born on the Cummeragunja Mission Station, an Indigenous Australian reserve in New South Wales, to a Yorta Yorta mother and a Yuin Monaro father. Little moved to Sydney in 1955 to pursue his dreams of being a musician.
The following year, he launched his recording career, and his breakout hit song “Royal Telephone” became the first Indigenous Australian song to reach number one on the pop music charts in 1963.
In 1964, “Royal Telephone” sold over 75,000 copies, earning him the title of Australian Pop Star of the Year, a platinum achievement by today’s standards. Little began acting during this time period, and by the 1970s, he had established himself as a household celebrity thanks to national tours, radio appearances, and television appearances. Throughout the rest of his career, Little began to utilise his clout to mentor Indigenous youngsters and campaign for literacy and health programmes in the 1980s.
Little’s reinterpretations of contemporary successes, which he recorded on 29 albums, earned him the status of one of Australia’s founding fathers of country music, and he was inducted into Tamworth’s Country Music Roll of Renown for his achievements.
He received three honorary doctorates and was named a National Living Treasure for his career of work for Australia’s Indigenous peoples. His legacy is carried on today through the Jimmy Little Foundation, which he formed in 2006 with the goal of promoting health, education, and opportunity in Indigenous Australian communities.