Nisha Rathode

Jimmy Chi

Name  Jimmy Chi
Role  Composer

Plays  Bran Nue Dae
Movies  Bran Nue Dae
Jimmy Chi newsaboriginalartdirectorycomphotosjimmychii
Nominations  AACTA Award for Best Original Music Score, AACTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Similar People  Rachel Perkins, Reg Cribb, Robyn Kershaw, Stephen Pigram, Deborah Mailman

Bran nue dae original version jimmy chi the kuckles

James Ronald Chi (1948 – 26 June 2017) was an Australian composer, musician and playwright. His best known work is the 1990 musical Bran Nue Dae which was adapted for film in 2009.


Jimmy Chi Aboriginal playwright and composer Jimmy Chi on the strength to live

Early life

Jimmy Chi Broome playwright Jimmy Chi dies at 69 The West Australian

Chi was born in Broome, Western Australia in 1948 to a Chinese/Japanese/Anglo-Australian father and a Scottish/Baada Aboriginal mother.


Jimmy Chi Bran Nue Dae playwright and Broome legend passes away NITV

From 1981 to 1982 Chi was the lead singer of the band Kuckles, before they disbanded.

Jimmy Chi Jimmy Chi Bran Nue Dae playwright awardwinning Indigenous WA

Chi's most acclaimed work is Bran Nue Dae, written in collaboration with his band Kuckles, Scrap Metal, the Pigram brothers and friends. Bran Nue Dae, is a partly autobiographical work which took Jimmy many years to write. It celebrates family, forgiveness and reconciliation and was a hit at the Festival of Perth in 1990 where it was performed by the Black Swan Theatre. It went on to tour Australia extensively and it was Australia's most successful musical play of the early 1990s.

Jimmy Chi Bran Nue Dae Original Version JIMMY CHI THE KUCKLES YouTube

One of the famous verses from a song in the musical sums up Chi's dry humour and sharp political approach:

Jimmy Chi Bran Nue Dae playwright and Broome legend passes away NITV

There's nothing I would rather be

Than to be an Aborigine
and watch you take my precious land away.
For nothing gives me greater joy
than to watch you fill each girl and boy

The musical won the prestigious Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards in 1990. The following year the published script and score won the Special Award in the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards.

It brought acclaim for many Aboriginal artists including Ernie Dingo, Josie Ningali Lawford and Leah Purcell. The musical's success was also instrumental in the formation of the Black Swan Theatre Company.

He also wrote the musical Corrugation Road, which was first performed by the Black Swan Theatre at the Fairfax Studio in Melbourne in 1996 before an Australian national tour. Corrugation Road concerns mental health, abuse, sexuality and religion, treated with humor and optimism.

Both musicals played a significant role in the development and direction of Indigenous performance.

His songs have been covered by such artists as the Irish singer Mary Black, and Aboriginal singer Archie Roach.

Chi's music has come to represent the colour of Broome. Broome's Opera Under the Stars festival has featured Chi's "Child of Glory", from Bran Nue Dae, at every festival since 1993. His hymns are regularly sung at Aboriginal funerals in Broome.

Awards and honors

In 1991, Chi was awarded the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Drama Award for Bran Nue Dae, for the musical about a young Aborigine's journey to consciousness.

In 1997, he was presented with the Australia Council's Red Ochre Award for the lifetime achievement of an Indigenous artist.

Chi won the Deadly Sounds National Indigenous Music Award for Excellence in Film or Theatre Score in 1998.

In 2004 he was acknowledged by the WA Government as a State Living Treasure.

Later life and death

Chi spent most of his later life at home in Broome with his family and friends. He died in Broome Hospital on 26 June 2017.


  • Broome songwriters with Michael Manolis and Ron Harper (Hodja Educational Resources, 1985) ISBN 0-949575-37-2
  • Bran Nue Dae (Currency Press, 1991) ISBN 0-86819-293-7
  • Corrugation Road (sound recording - Angoorrabin Records, p1996)
  • References

    Jimmy Chi Wikipedia

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