With nine wins, EMI Music Australia dominated the 19th Australian Record Industry Assn. awards, held last night (Oct. 23) at the Sydney SuperDome. EMI-signed singer/songwriter Missy Higgins converted

With nine wins, EMI Music Australia dominated the 19th Australian Record Industry Assn. awards, held last night (Oct. 23) at the Sydney SuperDome.

EMI-signed singer/songwriter Missy Higgins converted seven nominations into five victories, including best female artist. Higgins' debut set "The Sound Of White" got album of the year, highest selling album, best pop and breakthrough artist honors.

"The Sound of White" has shifted 560,000 units (eight times platinum) in Australia, according to EMI.

"The wins have been the pinnacle to what's been an amazing year," said the 22-year old, who has spent much of this year touring the United States opening for Jason Mraz and Ray Lamontagne. "The Sound Of White" is released in the United States and the United Kingdom by Warner Bros.

Other EMI Music Australia wins included guitar pop band End Of Fashion's "O Yeah" single in the breakthrough artist, single category. Keith Urban's "Be Here" won the country award, the Go-Betweens' "Oceans Apart" took out the adult contemporary category and Jet's "Right Right Right" claimed the music DVD accolade; Jet recordings are issued by Warner Music internationally.

This year's awards were dominated by breakthrough acts, as major artists including Powderfinger, Delta Goodrem, Kylie Minogue, Pete Murray, Kasey Chambers and Alex Lloyd were out of the spotlight.

The night also proved a triumph for Ben Lee, a music industry veteran at 27 (he fronted his band Noise Addicts at 16). Lee took male performer, his crossover album "Awake Is The New Sleep" (Inertia) won the independent album category and "Catch My Disease" won single of the year. Until this year, Lee had not won an ARIA Award.

Other winners included FMR-signed Eskimo Joe for best group, Grinspoon's "Thrills Kills and Sunday Pills" (Universal) in the rock category and Infusion's "Six Feet Above Yesterday" (SonyBMG) in the dance section.

Jimmy Barnes, who has notched up six consecutive chart topping solo albums, was inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame.

Among the live performances on the night was a rendition by Neil Finn of the Crowded House hit "Better Be Home Soon" after organizers aired a video tribute to the folk/rock act's drummer Paul Hester, who committed suicide in March.

The ARIA awards were televised live on the free-to-air Ten Network with a "highlights" special to be screened on pay TV's Channel [V'] this coming weekend.

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