Christine Anu, Katie Noonan & Mojo Juju shine at 2019 Australian Women In Music Awards
From pioneers to new lights, the winners of Wednesday night’s 2019 Australian Women In Music Awards at the Brisbane Powerhouse spread across the spectrum and lived up to their mission.
They came at the end of two days of panels where voices which had long been silenced or sidelined expressed their places in the music industry and the wider society.
The awards were marked with performances from Renee Geyer, Noonan, Clare Bowditch, Melinda Schneider, Ngaiire, Kaylah Truth, soprano Cheryl Barker AO and Tamara-Anna Cislowska among others.
Judith Durham was inducted into the Honour Roll.
During his keynote speech, broadcaster, musician, writer, teacher and philanthropist Eddie Ayres – born Emma Ayres – spoke of his journey and made a statement of that journey by at one stage playing cello and viola at the same time.
2019 AWMA WINNERS
Artistic Excellence: Christine Anu (NSW)
Creative Leadership: Katie Noonan (Qld)
Diversity in Music: Christine Anu (NSW)
‘Emerging Artist: Alice Skye (Vic)
Excellence In Classical Music: Caroline Almonte (VIic
Excellence In Image Making: Melaine Knight (NSW)
Film Maker: Tashi Hall (WA)
International Humanitarian: Dami Im (Qld)
Lifetime Achievement: Joy McKean, OAM (NSW)
Live Production: Laurie May (NT)
Music Journalist: Ange McCormack (NSW)
Music Leadership: Sue Telfer (NSW)
Music Photographer: Tashi Hall (WA)
Songwriter: Mojo Juju (Vic)
Production: Virginia Read (NSW)
The workshops were illuminating, passionate, angry and funny.
Visibility in Hip Hop: Women On The Front Line, (facilitated by performer Kween G) was nothing short of spectacular in the way it drew on how women and men could work together to empower women, in Australian hip hop, and in Australian music, and in Australian society.
Image Making, moderated by First Nations broadcaster Rhianna Patrick, responded to years of women being fat-shamed and told what bodies were acceptable to the music industry.
It was one thing for the Australian TV viewing public to be indignant when the likes of Paulini and Jessica Mauboy were ticked off for the shape of their bodies on music reality TV shows that purported to set out to discover singers.
Or for Kasey Chambers to have a hit asking radio ‘Am I Pretty Enough?’
But Amy Sheppard, who founded #KISSMYFATASS, said she wasn’t aware until she entered the spotlight how much scrutiny women in music were under.
“People are watching you. If you put on weight, you’re criticised. If you lose weight, you’re criticised. There’s always someone to notice that,” said Sheppard.
The Art Of Rebellion: The Intersection of Music & Politics, facilitated by ability leader Merenia Marin, emphasised how voices of dissent can be silenced, or appropriated and watered down.
As for How Opera Forum: Identity, Representation and Privilege (led by academic and mezzo-soprano Dr Eve Klein), it seemed those women in the fine arts were having a harder time than those in the rock field.
These forums offered a safe space for women to have conversations few had, especially in the music industry they have to survive in.
The AWMAs lit the spark, let’s see in the next 12 months if these conversations lead to direct action outside of the awards.
Nice also to see a spike in LGBTI+ and First Nations community members from last year – including eight women that the Queensland government brought out from remote settlements through Queensland and who seemed as enthused by the themes of openness and access.