Putting an Aussie twist on a Christmas carol may have been done before, but First Nations singer-songwriter Mitch Tambo has mastered it with his new cover of “Away In A Manger” sung in the Gamilaraay language. Move over “Santa Wear Your Shorts”, there’s a new banger to have on repeat all Christmas Day.
Tambo has found success online and in the music scene by blending the musical styles of Indigenous Australia with modern pop and contemporary sounds.
In an interview with PEDESTRIAN.TV Tambo shared that the “superpower” of this unique and powerful type of sound is how it lets listeners “feel and connect with my ancestry through the music.”
Released on December 8, his rendition of “Away In A Manger” is unlike you’ve ever heard the song before, bringing his original style of music to the classic carol, all while singing it in his native Gamilaraay language.
As a husband and father of four, Tambo opened up on how his family inspired him to cover this particular carol.
“This time of the year there’s so many parents out there that are just struggling to put food on the table and they’re just struggling to put a roof over their children’s head, and there’s all these pressures create an elaborate Christmas,” Tambo said to PEDESTRIAN.TV.
A touch of nostalgia also fuelled the inspiration, with the artist sharing how “Away In A Manger” brings back childhood memories of seeing Santas in firetrucks giving out lollies. Can Christmas get more Aussie than that?
Tambo also spoke about how he aims to “keep the integrity” while also creating something that “the majority of the discourse understand” when translating songs into his native language.
“There’s a real reconciliation that happens, a real celebration. It’s a really beautiful moment,” celebrated Tambo.
This combination of contemporary and Indigenous music is a wonderful symbol of the coming together of cultures, which Tambo says he hopes helps steers the discourse of Australia’s Indigenous affairs toward the opening of hearts to differences, so that people “realise that there’s more similarities within that [to] just celebrate.”
This year in the lead up to the Voice To Parliament referendum the proud Gamilaraay musician appeared on the ABC program Q+A where he spoke on the importance of healing and coming together through truth telling to create a better future.
While Tambo says believes now there’s still efforts that need to be made by all of Australia, which “involves coming together loving one another, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, class and beyond,” he highlights how said work doesn’t have to be painful.
“We can do that every day with how we treat each other, how we raise our kids. The values, we fill in them, you know, and how we maintain our own authenticity and our own integrity to ourselves,” he encouraged.
At the end of the day, he hopes that through his music he helps Australia see the value of “coming together and creating an amazing platform of acceptance.”
Mitch Tambo will be appearing this year on Nine’s Carols By Candlelight, which he says he’s “watched religiously” since he was a kid, and now with his family. You can catch Tambo performing a range of carols in his unique style on December 24.