The country fell in love with Mitch Tambo on the stage of Australia's Got Talent. He fell in love with his country long before that, write Madeline Link and Ben Jaffrey.
The Gamilaraay and Birri Gubba man catapulted Indigenous culture into the mainstream with his original, contemporary music sung in traditional tongue.
Tambo grew up in Tamworth; his grand final song was a tribute to Gamilaraay country and the moment he felt his spirit was set free.
"It's about my time on country and what that does for me," he said.
"Around that fire is where my heart can be broken free and there's this sense of love that only my country can give me.
"For some people going to the MCG is where they find that healing and love - for me it's back home."
Born in Sydney, Tambo moved to Tamworth when he was 18 months old.
His mother Roz Parker empowered him to embrace his culture and identity, while Aunty Bernadette Duncan helped him revive his language.
"My mum has been my greatest influencer, period," Tambo said.
"When it comes to culture, she empowered and encouraged me 1000 per cent to dive in and never look back.
"She's seen the power in it and what it's done for my spirit."
While Roz may have given her son the tools, she said it was Tambo's own choosing to use them in the way he had.
"I was raised in a positive environment with free will and I wanted that for Mitch. I never preached to Mitch whatsoever. I gave him perspective and then it was up to him," Roz said.
"He went to Birrelee when he was a two-year-old and there was always a sense of connection there.
"He's just a unique human being and I look up to him. Not many parents can say that. He's a very spiritual person and very self aware."
Those gifts instilled in Mitch are what the 29-year-old credits with keeping him on track in a country where Indigenous people are over-represented in the prison system; and more likely to have chronic disease, mental health problems, and abuse drugs and alcohol.
So he started True Culture four years ago, a program that empowers young people to explore their identity through cultural performance, mentor workshops, bush tucker and art experiences.
"I like to believe we are progressing," Tambo said.
"I feel like we have to believe that, even if the statistics don't say that."
The programs are run out of Melbourne where Tambo lives now, and his goal is to deliver them back on country in Tamworth and other regional areas.
True Culture works primarily to empower disengaged kids, those in foster care or on the brink of juvenile justice.
The program also does a lot of work with schools, childcare centres and lectures with university educators.
It's important to him to share his history in a country where Aboriginal people have been denied the right to celebrate their culture for about 200 years.
To be able to practise it freely in 2019 is where the path to healing begins, Tambo said.
"I think that's universal, not just a black-and-white thing," he said.
"Once you have a sense of self-identity and belonging, it brings you great healing because at the essence of that is self-love and respect.
"If you're denied the right to celebrate that, there's a sense of agony. In a clinical sense, it's trans-generational trauma.
"If you know who you are you have less chance of wavering, of being taken out by drugs, because you're connected and you don't need that."
Tambo received two golden buzzers on the talent show.
Part of the reason he wanted to go on and share his culture was to become an example of opportunity.
The more Aboriginal people are on national platforms and represented in all passions, the more young people will chase their dreams, Tambo said.
"We aren't just NRL stars," he said.
"We're lawyers, doctors and it's the truth.
"We are portrayed as these amazing athletes and there's people who are, but we want to be more than that."
Tambo's original songs have hit number 2 in the iTunes top 200 releases in Australia across all genres, and number 1 in the World Australian Chart.
The success is no surprise to Tambo's mother.
"From two years of age, he's [Tambo] always had something magical about him," Roz said.
She said her son was "the man of the people" and that was reflected in the wide appeal of his music.
"It [Tambo's grand final song] wasn't just for Indigenous people, it was for everyone. Anyone can dance to that song," Roz said.
"It's the essence behind the song.
"Mitch is like a little magnet.
"When he's singing [in the Gamilaraay] language, it's like it's hypnotic.
"He's singing from a deep, deep place. No one can teach him that."
Moving forward Tambo wants to continue to release more music like the song he performed in the Australia's Got Talent grand final.
"My whole drive is to celebrate my culture, my identity - within that I want to empower and encourage everyone to celebrate who they are and where they come from.
"Regardless of race, religion or sexuality.
"I want to continue my journey in youth empowerment and encourage them to be who they want to be, uncover their purpose and stay on a track that's fruitful."