News March 7, 2018

Vicki Gordon on the inaugural Australian Women’s Music Awards: “You cannot be what you cannot see”

Vicki Gordon on the inaugural Australian Women’s Music Awards: “You cannot be what you cannot see”

The Australian Women’s Music Awards were unveiled at the Brisbane Powerhouse yesterday.

Speaking at the event were awards director Vicki Gordon, Katie Noonan and Christine Anu.

The awards have been an idea of Gordon’s – a long time artist manager and executive – for 30 years, although things really started to move in the past three years.

They will be held on October 9—10 in Brisbane and be part of a larger discussion on gender inequality through keynotes and forums.

The Queensland Government has come on board with financial and marketing support.

Gordon told the assembled gathering of music industry, media, government representatives and unionists, that the awards were important because of the disproportion of women in music organisation boards and festivals, and that visibility of women was important because “You cannot be what you cannot see.”

Noonan, also artistic director of the Queensland Music Festival, was particularly enthused that her home state had shown the lead in gender inequality yet again.

She called the awards, ”A powerful signal to our industry, our artists and our audience that female artists can, should, and will take centre stage.”

Anu, one of those on the Advisory Council and one of the awards’ first champions, said, “This is like nothing I have ever seen in my lifetime – it would be a different industry if something like this had been around.

“Women’s voices need to be heard. This is not just an awards, this is a movement.

Frank Sinatra might have thought he did it his way. But he’s got nothing on us.”

Among performers providing their support have been names including Deborah Conway, Kate Ceberano, Tina Arena and The Preatures’ Isabella Manfredi.

Yesterday’s unveiling was hosted by Melbourne broadcaster and educator Tracee Hutchinson who is the Chair of the awards’ Advisory Council.

Also screened was a clip of the music documentary Her Sound Her Story. which will play a large role in the October  celebrations.

These include a Roll of Renown, and tributes to musical elders past, as Chrissy Amphlett and Ruby Hunter.

See the official Women In Music Awards website for full details.

The awards will not just be about female songwriters and performers but females working behind the scenes.

They also celebrate ­excellence in fields such as cross-cultural development, photography and education.

The awards will heavily involve First Nation communities, to acknowledge their female achievements and to honour their elders.

Also in the audience yesterday were two members of Alice-Springs based indigenous media and music company CAAMA, its Label Manager Johanna Campbell, and radio presenter Loretta Walker.

Gordon told TMN that CAAMA will be a partner in the awards, which will be working closely with the Healing Foundation.

“We want to ensure that Aborigine and Torres Strait Islander artists will be in the room in October and are around the table and are fully participating in every aspect of the program.

“It is a groundbreaking event on many levels, and what I’m hearing from many of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is that they are so excited to be invited, to be part of this, and to be part of changing the course of history.”

CAAMA will play an important role in communicating the idea behind the awards, and also ensure that nominations come from women living in remote rural communities.

“It comes back to the importance of visibility,” Gordon told TMN.

“It’s also making visible the contributions of the elders who came before us, so people can see what they did, and offer hope for the future.”

Gordon adds, “Without sounding spooky, the awards are coming as part of the universe’s movement where women around the world are finally being believed.

“History is finally on our side.”

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