Sampa The Great criticises ARIA board diversity during performance
Sampa The Great took a brief moment during her performance at the 2020 ARIA Awards, which took place last night, to criticise the organisation’s board composition.
The hip hop artist – real name Sampa Tembo – performed her track ‘Final Form’ last night, recorded from Botswana. During her performance, Tembo said “they toss us on the ad breaks”, possibly alluding to her 2019 award acceptance speech which was cut during the live broadcast.
“In a country that pretends to not see black, to not see its origins and its past, not only did black visionaries make you see, but made it known who created human history,” Tembo said.
“And we win awards, they toss us on the ad breaks, of course. But is that history lost? Can’t remember what you forgot.
“Is it free? This industry, for people like me? Diversity, equity in your ARIA boards.”
Tembo ended up taking home the awards for Best Female Artist and Best Independent Release, in addition to Best Hip Hop Release for the second consecutive year.
Speaking to TMN prior to the ceremony, ARIA CEO Dan Rosen said event organisers made a mistake when it came to Tembo’s speech. Additionally with the move to change Best Urban Award to Best Hip Hop Award in 2019, which was seen as a missed opportunity for ARIA to lead the movement in making that change.
“We should have handled it better last year in acknowledging the important reforms we made to change that award and, in particular, acknowledge the historic wins by Sampa and [Best Soul/R&B Release winner] Kaiit,” he said.
“I regret we didn’t take the opportunity to provide the national platform that those wins warranted and I apologise for that. We need to do better this year and will continue to improve as an organisation and how we best represent the diversity of our artists and our industry.
“ARIA needs to continue to represent what our industry is at this moment, and hip hop’s such an incredible force for change, a force for good, and a catalyst for our business.”