West Australian psychedelic pop band Tame Impala and African-Australian rapper Sampa The Great have been the big winners at a socially distanced ARIA Awards ceremony.
The live-streamed event, with awards presented in an empty convention centre in Sydney and accepted by artists largely via video from home on Wednesday night, was a chance for some celebration at the end of a tough year for the music business.
Tame Impala, the project led by producer and songwriter Kevin Parker, won Album of the Year – the third time it has done so – and Best Rock Album for The Slow Rush, the band’s fourth record.
It also won Best Group, beating 5 Seconds of Summer, DMA’S, Lime Cordiale and The Teskey Brothers, while Parker, who was meant to be touring Australia with the band next week, won Engineer of the Year and Producer of the Year.
Sampa The Great, the 27-year-old Zambia-born artist who first moved to Australia six years ago, won Best Female Artist as well as Best Independent Release and Best Hip-Hop Release, both for The Return, her 2019 debut album. She was nominated for six.
At the ARIAs, she performed from Botswana, where she was raised, beginning a version of her song Final Form by calling out the lack of diversity in the Australian music industry, which at the top is overwhelming white.
“Is it free, this industry, for people like me?” she said in an introduction to the performance.
“Diversity, equity, in your ARIA boards.”
Accepting the award for Best Hip-Hop Release, in a category she noted “often feels isolated and masculine,” she said: “Now we get to see a side of Australia that was never shown.”
She was up against four men: Briggs, Illy, The Kid LAROI and Baker Boy.
Sampa, who this year became the first artist to collect the coveted Australian Music Award for a second time, has previously criticised the industry for what she sees as a hollow commitment to cultural diversity.
One of the surprises of the night was the fact that Lime Cordiale, the young Sydney band led by brothers Oli and Louis Leimbach, won just a single ARIA, despite going into the night the leading contender with eight nominations.
Amy Shark was an early winner, picking up Best Pop release for Everybody Rise, which she performed to open the show, and Best Australian Live Act.
Best Country Album went to Fanny Lumsden for Fallow, while Archie Roach won Best Adult Contemporary Album for Tell Me Why.
Archie Roach celebrated for 30-year career
Roach was this year’s inductee into the ARIA Hall of Fame, his eyes wet with tears as he thanked supporters for their help over a 30-year career and performed Took The Children Away, one of his biggest hits.
Roach was also meant to be touring in 2020 – the same could be said for every nominee – but for him, it was particularly special: It was meant to be the singer’s last.
Instead, stuck at home, the 56-year-old rerecorded Charcoal Lane, the Paul Kelly-produced album that included Took The Children Away. He also worked on an educational resource to teach children about the Stolen Generations, of which he is a member.
In other categories, Dom Dolla won Best Dance Release for San Frandisco, while Miiesha, a Pitjantjatjara/Torres Strait Islander woman from Central Queensland, won Best Soul/R&B Release for Nyaaringu.
The ARIA Awards also featured a tribute to the Australian singer Helen Reddy, who died in September.
Tones and I, Emma Donovan, Delta Goodrem, Mo’Ju and others collaborated on a version of Reddy’s US No.1 hit I Am Woman, introduced by former prime minister Julia Gillard, who spoke of the song’s significance as a feminist anthem.
The ceremony, hosted by Delta Goodrem, caps off a year in which touring, and even playing live in general, has proved difficult across the country.
The industry “fell off a cliff” in March, when pandemic restrictions were introduced, a parliamentary hearing heard earlier this month, with hundreds of millions of dollars in lost wages recorded.
ARIA has said it does not expect live shows, a critical part of the industry, to return full steam until late next year.
Here are the nominees, with winners listed in bold.
Album Of The Year
DMA’S – The Glow, Jessica Mauboy – Hilda, Lime Cordiale – 14 Steps To A Better You, Sampa The Great – The Return, Tame Impala – The Slow Rush.
Best Male Artist
Archie Roach – Tell Me Why, Guy Sebastian – Standing With You, Ruel – Free Time, The Kid LAROI – F-ck Love, Troye Sivan – In A Dream.
Best Female Artist
Amy Shark – Everybody Rise, Miiesha – Nyaaringu, Sampa The Great – The Return, Sia – Together, Tones And I – Bad Child/Can’t Be Happy All The Time.
5 Seconds of Summer – CALM, DMA’S – The Glow, Lime Cordiale – 14 Steps To A Better You, Tame Impala – The Slow Rush, The Teskey Brothers – Live At The Forum.
Alex The Astronaut – The Theory Of Absolutely Nothing, Lime Cordiale – 14 Steps To A Better You, Mallrat – Driving Music, Miiesha – Nyaaringu, The Kid LAROI – F-ck Love.
Best Pop Release
Amy Shark – Everybody Rise, Lime Cordiale – 14 Steps To A Better You, Sia – Together, Tame Impala – Lost In Yesterday, Troye Sivan – In A Dream.
Best Dance Release
Alice Ivy – Don’t Sleep, Dom Dolla – San Frandisco, Flume – Rushing Back ft. Vera Blue, Northeast Party House – Shelf Life, Stace Cadet & KLP – Energy.
Best Hip-Hop Release
Baker Boy – Meditjin ft. JessB, Briggs – Always Was EP, Illy – Last Laugh, Sampa The Great – The Return, The Kid LAROI – F-ck Love.
Best Soul/R&B Release
Genesis Owusu – Don’t Need You, KIAN – Every Hour, Miiesha – Nyaaringu, Tash Sultana – Pretty Lady, Tkay Maidza – Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2.
Best Independent Release
Archie Roach – Tell Me Why, DMA’S – The Glow, Lime Cordiale – 14 Steps To A Better You, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen, Sampa The Great – The Return.
Best Rock Album
Cold Chisel – Blood Moon, DMA’S – The Glow, Ocean Alley – Lonely Diamond, Tame Impala – The Slow Rush, Violent Soho – Everything Is A-OK.
Best Adult Contemporary Album
Archie Roach – Tell Me Why, Donny Benet – Mr Experience, Gordi – Our Two Skins, Josh Pyke – Rome, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen.
Best Country Album
Casey Barnes – Town Of A Million Dreams, Fanny Lumsden – Fallow, Jasmine Rae – Lion Side, The McClymonts – Mayhem To Madness, Travis Collins – Wreck Me.
Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Chunky Shrapnel, Parkway Drive – Viva The Underdogs, Polaris – The Death Of Me, The Amity Affliction – Everyone Loves You … Once You Leave Them, The Chats – High Risk Behaviour.
Best Blues & Roots Album
Busby Marou – The Great Divide, Frank Yamma – Tjukurpa: The Story, Lucky Oceans – Purple Sky, The Teskey Brothers – Live At The Forum, Tracy McNeil & The Good Life – You Be The Lightning.
Best Children’s Album
Diver City – Welcome To Diver City, Teeny Tiny Stevies – Thoughtful Songs For Little People, The Vegetable Plot – Season Two, The Wiggles – Choo Choo Trains, Propeller Planes & Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car! Tiptoe Giants – Colour The World.
Best Comedy Release
Anne Edmonds – What’s Wrong With You? Bev Killick – Crummy Mummy, Celia Pacquola – All Talk, Megan Washington – Just Jesus, Tom Gleeson – Joy.
Baker Boy – Meditjin ft. JessB, Guy Sebastian – Standing With You, Lime Cordiale – Robbery, PNAU ft. Vlossom – Lucky, Sampa The Great – Time’s Up ft. Krown, Tame Impala – Is It True, The Chats – The Clap, Tones And I – Ur So F–kInG cOoL, Troye Sivan – Easy, Violent Soho – Pick It Up Again.
Best Australian Live Act
Amy Shark – Amy Shark Regional Tour, Baker Boy – Falls Festival, Cold Chisel – Blood Moon Tour, DMA’S – Unplugged & Intimate, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Paul Kelly – Making Gravy 2019, PNAU – All Of Us Australian Tour, RÜFÜS DU SOL – 2019 Summer Festival Tour, Sampa The Great – The Return Australian Tour 2019, The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow.
Song Of The Year
5 Seconds of Summer – Teeth, Flume – Rushing Back ft. Vera Blue, Hilltop Hoods ft. Illy & Ecca Vandal – Exit Sign, Lime Cordiale – Robbery, Mallrat – Charlie, Ruel – Painkiller, Sam Fischer – This City, The Jungle Giants – Heavy Hearted, The Rubens – Live In Life, Tones And I – Never Seen The Rain.
Best International Artist
Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia, Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By, Halsey – Manic, Harry Styles – Fine Line, Juice WRLD – Legends Never Die, Justin Bieber – Changes, Lewis Capaldi – Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent, Lizzo – Cuz I Love You, Taylor Swift – Folklore, The Weeknd – After Hours.
ARIA Music Teacher Award
CJ Shaw – Palmerston District Primary School, Canberra ACT, Kathryn McLennan – Virginia State School, Virginia QLD, Sarah Donnelley – Wilcannia Central School, Wilcannia NSW, Thomas Fienberg – Evans High School, Blacktown NSW
Best Cover Art
Donny Benet – Mr Experience, Jessica Mauboy – Hilda, Lime Cordiale – 14 Steps To A Better You, Violent Soho – Everything Is A-OK, WASHINGTON – Batflowers.
Engineer Of The Year
Alice Ivy – Don’t Sleep, IAMMXO (aka Mohamed Komba) for Miiesha – Nyaaringu, Eric J Dubowsky for Ruel – Free Time, Kevin Parker for Tame Impala – The Slow Rush, Greg Wales for Violent Soho – Everything Is A-OK.
Producer Of The Year
Kevin Shirley for Cold Chisel – Blood Moon, DNA & Louis Schoorl for Jessica Mauboy – Hilda, IAMMXO (aka Mohamed Komba) for Miiesha – Nyaaringu, M-Phazes for Ruel – Free Time, Kevin Parker for Tame Impala – The Slow Rush.
Best Classical Album
Alicia Crossley – Muse, David Greco & Erin Helyard – Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin, Jayson Gillham, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Nicholas Carter – Beethoven Piano Concertos, Richard Tognetti & Erln Helyard – Beethoven & Mozart Violin Sonatas, Slava & Sharon Grigoryan – Our Place: Duets For Cello and Guitar.
Best Jazz Album
Katie Noonan – The Sweetest Taboo, Luke Howard – All That Is Not Solid, Mike Nock; Hamish Stuart; Julien Wilson; Jonathan Zwartz – This World, Nat Bartsch – Forever More, Paul Kelly & Paul Grabowsky – Please Leave Your Light On.
Best Original Soundtrack or Musical Theatre Cast Album
Chelsea Cullen – I Am Woman, Dan Golding – Untitled Goose Game, Grigoryan Brothers – A Boy Called Sailboat, Matteo Zingales & Antony Partos – Mystery Road, Sally Seltmann & Darren Seltmann – The Letdown.
Best World Music Album
Grace Barbe – FANN:WOMAN, Joseph Tawadros – Live At The Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Ska Orchestra – Live At The Triffid, The Crooked Fiddle Band – Another Subtle Atom Bomb, Xylouris White – The Sisypheans.