Singers Vanessa Amorosi, Toni Watson, and Kate Ceberano were in the winner’s circle Wednesday night (Sept. 27) at the 2023 Australian Women In Music Awards (AWMA), held in Brisbane.


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Amorosi, who has lived in Los Angeles for the past 13 years, returned to home soil for this year’s event, at which she performed a new work from her forthcoming eighth album, Memphis Love, slated for release Nov. 17, and collected the inspiration award.

Meanwhile, Watson, the one-time busker who led the charts in 30 countries with “Dance Monkey,” recognized as one of the five most-streamed songs on Spotify (with 2.9 billion plays), scored the songwriter award. Watson solely wrote “Dance Monkey,” and is currently abroad working on her sophomore album, expected to drop in 2024.

“I genuinely think Australia has some of the best songwriters in the world,” she said via a pre-taped acceptance speech. “We write some of the best music with integrity and a lot of heart. I say that wherever I go.” There are “more women coming out and expressing themselves, we’ve got so many amazing artists coming up, so many exciting female coming out of the Australia music industry. It’s truly an honor to be someone helping pave the way.”

Established in 2018, AWMA shines a light on accomplishments of women across all areas of Australia’s music industry.

Other winners at The Tivoli included Vika & Linda (artistic excellence), Ashli (emerging artist), and soul singer Renee Geyer was posthumously inducted into the AWMA Honour Roll, alongside Judy Stone.

In a first, all three nominees for the lifetime achievement award went home with the prize, presented to a female artist or musician who has made an outstanding artistic contribution to the field of recording and/or live performance during her lifetime. Ceberano, Clare Moore and Jeannie Lewis jointly accepted the honor.

“I’ve been up for many awards in my life, and I’ve never really gotten any of them. I couldn’t be more proud,” remarked Ceberano, a legend in these parts who has been at the top of the game since the 1980s, initially as a singer with The Models and I’m Talking, before embarking on a successful solo career.

The triumvirate on stage, she quipped, were the “last of the Mohicans,” and “of a generation, it seems, that came through before social media and we weren’t being watched while we were doing what we were doing. And we still did it.”

During proceedings, Tony Burke MP, minister for the arts, made a pledge to support the AWMA’s cause. “I’ve never understood why so much in the system has made it so hard,” he explained in a pre-recorded bit. “I want to make sure that your careers are just as easy to prosper as it is for men in the industry. I don’t know why its harder to get radio play, why its hard to get festival lineups, I don’t know why its been harder for fundamentals, like just having a safe workplace. But I want you to know you have a government determined to fix this,” he said, pointing to the creation of Creative Australia, formed through the National Cultural Policy.

Organizers handed out 23 AWMAS to some of the industry’s “most accomplished and emerging female artists, musicians and music practitioners,” with winners decided by a 37-member music industry panel.

The AWMA caps a two-day conference and live music program, and is supported by the Queensland government.

“AWMA is calling on the industry to adopt gender equality as a core music industry value as a matter of priority, significant policy change needs to occur at both state and federal level to ensure women form an equitable part of the industry,” comments AWMA executive producer and program director Vicki Gordon. “Gender bias can only be addressed by prioritizing inclusivity and representation as core music values.”

Performers included Dami Im, Vika & Linda, Hot Brown Honey, and an all-star rendition of AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll),” featuring Amorosi and the Bull sisters on lead vocals, and Sarah McLeod on lead guitar.

Check out all the AWMAs winners.

2023 Australian Women in Music Awards winners:

Studio Production
Robyn Lee Payne

Artistic Excellence
Vika & Linda

Diversity in Music
Cerisa Benjamin

Music Journalist
Jane Gazzo

Excellence in Classical Music
Celia Craig

Emerging Artist

Creative Leadership
Claire Edwardes

Inaugural ARIA Executive Leader Game Changer
Emily Collins

Inaugural Women in Heavy Music
Emmy Mack

Lifetime Achievement
Kate Ceberano
Clare Moore
Jeannie Lewis

Tina Arena Special Impact
Oana Gilbert (posthumous)

Honour Roll
Judy Stone
Renée Geyer (posthumous)

Music Leadership
Marianna Annas

Triana Hernandez

Live Production Touring
Jenny Moon

Live Creative Production
Naomi Price

Music Photographer
Mia Mala McDonald

Alison Hams

Toni Watson (Tones & I)

Inspiration Award
Vanessa Amorosi

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