Joy McKean, Christine Anu, Mojo Juju, Alice Skye, Caroline Almonte, Ange McCormack and Katie Noonan are among the winners of the 2019 Australian Women in Music Awards.
In only its second year, AWMA has become a beacon of women’s contributions and achievements across all areas of the Australian music industry.
Christine Anu picked up two AWMAs – Diversity in Music and Artistic Excellence – in acknowledgement of decades of work and her extensive contribution and commitment to Australia’s cultural music scene.
Singer-songwriter Alice Skye took out the Emerging Artist Award. With a voice described as “a combination of hopeful and haunting”, Alice Skye’s songs centre around well-crafted and articulate lyrics of love, loss and life. Now living in Melbourne, this young Wergaia woman released her captivating debut album, Friends with Feelings, in 2018 and toured nationally with Emily Wurramara.
Winner of this year’s Songwriter Award, Mojo Juju’s third album, Native Tongue, was released in August 2018 to critical acclaim. Through the telling of family history and her own personal experiences, Mojo Juju’s songwriting explores her relationships with Elders and Ancestry and how that informs her own identity.
As a fierce female advocate in the music industry, Katie Noonan was awarded the 2019 AWMA for Creative Leadership, acknowledging her unwavering perseverance in aiding the development of Australia’s diverse musical landscapes. Katie Noonan has proven herself one of Australia’s most hardworking, versatile and prolific artists, as well as championing female-fronted and community projects.
The AWMA Concert included a special tribute performed by Katie Noonan, Jess Green, Zoe Hauptmann and Ali Foster acknowledging 2019 AWMA Honour Roll inductee, Judith Durham AO, who joins the 2018 inaugural inductee, Helen Reddy.
This year’s AWMA for Lifetime Achievement went to the “grand lady of Australian country music” Joy McKean Oam. She began performing at a young age with her sister, Heather, and went on to be recognised as one of Australia’s leading songwriters and bush balladeers, writing many of Slim Dusty’s greatest hits. Joy McKean is also one of the founders of the Tamworth Country Music Festival and the Country Music Association of Australia.
Western Australian multi-media talent Tashi Hall took out dual awards for Film Maker and Music Photography. She has worked with over 500 local, interstate and international bands and been invited to photograph for independent publications and magazines across Australia, Canada and the United States. Since teaching herself filmmaking skills in early 2015, Tashi Hall has directed, filmed and produced over 15 music videos, documentaries and promotional videos for the WA music scene.
Diversity and talent of women in the music industry took centre stage at AWMA, with 15 award categories presented, including new awards for Eexcellece in Classical Music, awarded to Caroline Almonte who has been at the forefront of female classical performance in Australia for over 25 years, and Eexcellence in Image Making, awarded to Melaine Knight, a musician / performance artist / costume designer and creative director who has styled countless major international and Australian performers.
The new award for Music Journalism went to Ange McCormack whose ground-breaking annual report, the Hack, into the representation of women in the Australian music industry has made an enormous contribution to the fight for gender equality in the Australian music industry.
Dami Im was recognised with this year’s Humanitarian Award for her passionate support to alleviate childhood poverty in underdeveloped countries. Having been involved with the Compassion Australia charity organisation since she was a 17-year-old student at university, Dami Im has promoted the charitable cause through fundraising events for Compassion, and for a number of other Australian charitable causes.
Alice Springs Bush Bands Program Manager Laurie May received the Live Production Award for the support provided to Indigenous musicians and bands, culminating in the annual Bush Bands Bash concert.
Arguably Australia’s finest classical music producers and engineers Virginia Read was acknowledged with the Studio Production Award. Her talent and experience is frequently cited within the industry and in specialist music media both within Australia and around the world.
The award for Music Leadership was posthumously conferred to Sue Telfer, who died suddenly in June 2019 after a 30+ year career of leadership and service, making an immense contribution to the Sydney live music industry. She was a beloved and well-known professional leader and communicator whose conduct, ethics, impact and influence on the lives and careers of so many artists left an indelible mark.
In 2019, AWMA Founding Executive Director & Executive Producer Vicki Gordon continues her groundbreaking work for change, delivering another strong platform for diversity and inclusivity highlighted with performances by Clare Bowditch, Melinda Schneider, Ngaiire, Zoe Hauptmann, Jess Green, Sorcha Albuquerque, Zela Margossian, Kaylah Truth, Dizzy Doolan, Kween G & DJ Redbelly.
Some of the evening’s highlights included an opening by internationally renowned Australian soprano Cheryl Barker AO, performing ‘Vissi D’Arte’, accompanied by award-winning pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska. With performances by some of Australia’s top female musicians, the evening was capped off with an unforgettable finale by the legendary Renée Geyer performing ‘IT’S A MANS WORLD’!
The Award Ceremony and Concert was the centrepiece of a two-day event that also included forums on Visibility in Hip Hop (Women on The Front Line), The Art of Rebellion (The Intersection of Music and Politics), Image Making (The Changing Face of Music) and HOW OPERA (Identity, Representation and Privilege). AWMA also included a unique speed networking event hosted in partnership with APRA AMCOS, and a keynote address by much loved and respected broadcaster, musician, author & philanthropist Eddie Ayres.
AWMA spread its wings in 2019 to include a regional and remote program with a roundtable event held in Cairns, hosted by AWMA, QMusic and supported by the Queensland Government. Eight women from regional and remote Queensland attended AWMA for the first time, including two women from Yarrabah, in Far North Queensland.
Queensland Minister for Women Di Farmer congratulated recipients on receiving their accolade. “The Palaszczuk Government celebrates women and girls, who are integral to the depth, vitality and success of the Australian music industry,” said Minister Farmer. “They are creators and makers of art which has delighted audiences both at home and abroad. Despite this, women still experience disadvantage in the music industry, and female artists earn less in general than their male counterparts. I congratulate the Australian Women in Music Awards for turning the spotlight on women and girls in the music industry.”