Words by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer
On Wednesday night I was treated to a rare mid week escape from the normal routine. It was a crisp spring night in Brisbane as I headed to my destination, my heart aflutter with the sheer joy and honour of being able to attend such a very important and special night. The Brisbane Powerhouse was set to host an absolutely stunning night celebrating something truly wonderful; The Australian Women in Music Awards.
Arriving early to catch the stars, hosts, nominees and all the amazing people involved with bringing the AWMA’s to life walk the black carpet. Such a very special moment to stand with fellow media and take in the excitement, anticipation and emotion that filled the Brisbane Powerhouse right to the top of its powerfully high ceilings. Everyone looked so completely dazzling and ever so beautiful as they glided down the carpet and paused for a photo or two. I could not help but gasp when women I have loved since I was very young came through, Jenny Morris, Little Pattie, Renee Geyer and Lindy Morrison (The Go-Betweens). My heart almost stopped for a moment when Lindy walked in, such an absolutely inspiring woman and for me, someone whom I have always looked up too as a woman in music. Lindy did an interview with Andrew Denton back in 1988 and I’ve watched it many times. Lindys’ responses to his questions in relation to the difference in men and women and how they express emotions, talking about men and women in the industry and much more, still makes me smile from ear to ear each time I watch it. If you have not seen it, I suggest you do.
Lindy was just one of so many women there who deserve a mention. Some of whom I’ve adored since my teens; Katie Noonan, Clare Bowditch, Kellie Lloyd (Screamfeeder) and some whom I have more recently discovered; Ella Fence, Alice Skye, NGAIIRE, Dizzy Doolan and so many more. I wish I could write about each and every one in great detail, but I’d be here for weeks!
All this, this whole night, the months of preparation, the pure magic of this night, was all thanks to the amazing, Vicki Gordon, the founding executive director and executive producer of the AWMA’s. Vicki, along with her talented team, clearly put so much into the whole event and I simply must say thank you to everyone who brought the AWMA’s to life. The awards ceremony and after party were both equally as enjoyable and it was such an overwhelmingly emotive experience to be in the same room as so many talented, strong, hard working, beautiful and inspiring women. I am sure that energy was felt by all in attendance.
After the flurry of energy on the black carpet, it was time to find my seat and for the awards ceremony to begin. The room went dark and quiet in anticipation. I held my hand to my heart as the beautiful Auntie Maroochy Barambah took to the stage to give us a welcome to country and told us some of her story. I felt every word in my heart and being a proud Murri woman, it was an honour to sit and watch and listen to her and also to the performers who shared their traditional dance with us. Emcees, Yumi Stynes and Aletha Beetson were a perfect choice in their roles. Both women keeping their audience listening, laughing and feeling every moment. Yumi introducing Vicki Gordon whom during her speech quoted “Tonight, you are with your people”. As she said this, I stopped to look around me. Another moment where I felt the shared understanding and appreciation of each other’s place here in the music industry. Women standing together. The feeling almost inexplicable.
With a long line of well deserving winners and nominees, as the night went on, many of the speeches and performances touched my heart. When Ange McCormack, who won the Twitter Australian Music Journalist Award gave her speech, it really hit home. Speaking of the ‘imposter syndrome’ where you don’t feel you are good enough, like you are not good enough to be a part of what you do and how many of us have this self-doubt. It’s so easy to be your own worst critic, but her speech reminded me I CAN do this, and I AM good at what I do, and I DO deserve to be here. Bless. Thanks Ange.
With performances from NGAIIRE, Katie Noonan, Clare Bowditch, Melinda Schneider, Cheryl Barker, Kween G, Kaylah Truth, Dizzy Doolan, DJ Redbelly, Jess Green, Sorcha Albuquerque, Zoe Hauptmann, Ali Foster, Renee Geyer and more, the mix of genres and performances were all delivered beautifully to a mesmerised crowd.
Another notable speech came from Laurie May, winner of the Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment Live Production Award. She stopped and said “I just want to make sure I thank…myself. I work really hard!!” which was responded too with a roar of laughter and nods in agreeance. So many of us in the room, completely relating to her. Tashi Hall won not one, but two awards for her work in photography and film making, both well deserved. Listening to Virginia Read talk about her work after she was awarded the GOA Studio Production Award was simply awe inspiring. She shared with us that over her years of working in the industry she had produced 140 albums, that’s one album every 7 weeks for 20 years. Amazing. Melaine Knight who was awarded the Sun Studios Excellence In Image Making Award handled the mispronunciation of her name so gracefully and her speech was another that had me with my hand on my heart, truly inspiring. The AWMA Music Leadership Award going to Sue Telfer who sadly passed away only a few months ago. Sue worked for the musicians’ rights organisation APRA-AMCOS for 32 years as well as being a booking agent and much more and was known and loved in the music industry by so many.
The AWMA Lifetime Achievement Award went to the beautiful Joy McKean. A talented artist in her own right and also wife of the late and great Slim Dusty. Her speech begun with her exclaiming that she never thought she’d see the day “an awards night just for us!” Joy had everyone laughing and enjoying her whole speech, she celebrates her 90th birthday soon and is truly an inspiration and most certainly a woman who paved the way in music for all those after her.
The night ended with a performance from the divine Renee Geyer along with Katie Noonan on piano, Zoe Hauptmann on bass, Jess Green on guitar and Ali Foster on drums. They performed It’s A Mans World. What a perfect way to end the ceremony.
The after party was a buzz with everyone crowding around to enjoy free drinks and the most divine cheese platters and other nibbles. A chance to meet, catch up with and chat to friends, associates and stars (though in all honesty, I believe EVERYONE there on Wednesday night was a star!)
A special shout out and much appreciation for the beautiful and extremely hard working Sammie Anschau from Beehive PR, for having Good Call Live cover the AWMA’s and all her hard work leading up to and during the awards.
The night came to an end but the feeling that came from attending will stay with me forever. I can’t wait for next year.
Award winners listed below:
2019 AUSTRALIAN WOMEN IN MUSIC AWARD WINNERS
THE CALILE HOTEL ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE AWARD
SCENESTR CREATIVE LEADERSHIP AWARD
SSI DIVERSITY IN MUSIC AWARD
AWMA EMERGING ARTIST AWARD
AWMA EXCELLENCE IN CLASSICAL MUSIC AWARD
SUN STUDIOS EXCELLENCE IN IMAGE MAKING AWARD
CANON AUSTRALIA FILM MAKER AWARD
CICADA INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN AWARD
AWMA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Joy McKean, OAM
FRONTIER TOURING & CHUGG ENTERTAINMENT LIVE PRODUCTION AWARD
TWITTER AUSTRALIA MUSIC JOURNALIST AWARD
AWMA MUSIC LEADERSHIP AWARD
CANON AUSTRALIA MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHER AWARD
APRA AMCOS SONGWRITER AWARD
GOA STUDIO PRODUCTION AWARD