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News March 12, 2021

Thelma Plum wins Vanda & Young contest with ‘Better In Blak’

Thelma Plum wins Vanda & Young contest with ‘Better In Blak’

Nothing is better than ‘Better In Blak.’

That’s the consensus from a music industry panel, which has awarded Thelma Plum with first prize in the 2020 Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition.

The Gamilaraay singer and songwriter takes out the $50,000 winner’s cheque, courtesy of APRA AMCOS, Alberts and BMG.

‘Better in Blak’ was nominated for song of the year at the 2019 ARIA Awards, with Plum delivering a spinetingling performance on the night.

Stream Thelma Plum’s ‘Better In Blak’:

Plum’s signature song was also shortlisted in the 2020 peer-voted APRA Song of the Year and came in at No. 9 in the triple j Hottest 100.

“I can’t even really describe it,” she says of her Vanda And Young win. “My heartfelt thanks to Alex Burnett and Oli Horton for their creativity and to everyone who connected to a song that is deeply personal, written when I was feeling very alone.”

Plum has come close before. In the 2013 Vanda & Young competition, she was runner-up for ‘Breathe In Breathe Out.’

It’s a First Nations 1-2 as Baker Boy’s ‘Meditjin’ takes second prize in the 2020 songwriting contest.

The rising hip-hop star and 2019 Young Australian of the Year (real name Danzal Baker) collects the $10,000 cash prize, courtesy of Banki Haddock Fiora.

Watch Baker Boy’s ‘Meditjin’:

A Yolngu man, Baker Boy paid tribute to his co-writers JessB, Jerome Farah, Dallas Woods and Dion Brownfield.

“I was blown away that I even made the shortlist so to come 2nd for the Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition is just crazy,” he comments.

“It feels really special that my Yolngu Matha lyrics are getting this kind of recognition.”

Breakthrough Sydney singer and songwriter Ruel takes 3rd place — and $5,000, courtesy of Aon — for ‘Painkiller.’

Watch Ruel’s ‘Painkiller’:

The $5,000 AMPAL Emerging Songwriter Prize, previously known as the Unpublished prize, goes to Fremantle native Carla Geneve for ‘The Right Reasons.’

The award is bestowed to an outstanding unpublished writer, and has been previously won by the likes of Mallrat and Kaiit.

Watch Carla Geneve’s ‘The Right Reasons’:

This year for the first time, 10 runners-up from the top 40 shortlist each snag $1,000 cash. Among the recipients are Gordi, The Teskey Brothers, Washington and Vera Blue.

For this year’s competition, more than 4,000 entries were submitted from songwriters in 46 countries, raising $203,000 for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia (NORO).

Applicants chip in an entry fee of $50 per submission.

The competition launched 12 years ago and, so far, has contributed over $1.4 million to good causes.

The prize takes its name from the iconic songwriters and founding members of The Easybeats, Harry Vanda and George Young, who passed away in October 2017.

This year’s judging panel included award-winning songwriter Lior, APRA AMCOS Ambassador Dallas Frasca, triple j Unearthed’s music director Dave Ruby Howe, producer Robert Conley, music writers and label execs.

Read more here.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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