Who is Kev Carmody?

Kev Carmody is a celebrated Indigenous singer-songwriter and alumnus of The University of Queensland (Diploma of Education, ’81).

Carmody grew up around cattle stations in the Darling Downs area of Queensland, where his parents worked as drovers and labourers. Alongside early exposure to music, Carmody felt a strong connection with the country through the history and law passed onto him by those around him. In 1956, Carmody was removed from his parents as part of the Stolen Generation and enrolled in a Catholic School in Toowoomba. After he left school, Carmody worked as a drover, stockman, wool-presser, labourer, cane cutter, bag-lumper and bag-sower on rural properties, later becoming a welder and working in Toowoomba, where he revisited his childhood love for music began performing at a weekly folk club.

In Toowoomba, Carmody studied classical guitar and musical theory and took Australian Music Board examinations in theory and composition. Following a recommendation from a teacher, he enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts from the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (now part of the University of Southern Queensland) in 1978, followed by postgraduate studies at UQ (Diploma of Education, ’81). During his university studies, Carmody used music as part of Oral History and tradition during tutorials.

Carmody’s experiences with the bush life, tradition of oral storytelling from his Aboriginal family and love of language from his Irish heritage provided an invaluable foundation for his career in music. Alongside many recognitions for his music, he was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame in 2009. Carmody is particularly well-known for co-writing From Little Things Big Things Grow with Paul Kelly in 1991, which shares the story of the fight for land rights by the Gurindji people in the Northern Territory, led by Vincent Lingiari.

Carmody’s music is founded on vibrant imagery and rich, unflinching stories, as well as learning to listen in new ways. He blends politics, history and the natural world in his songs.

Jacaranda Tree from A Guidance Through Time by Casey Coolwell and Kyra Mancktelow is a significant representation of UQ and the tree of life and sharing of knowledge.