With two major prizes, Angus and Julia Stone were the big winners at the Australasian Performing Right Association(APRA) Awards Sydney Tuesday night (June 21). The awards celebrate composers and songwriters across 12 categories that have achieved excellence in their craft over the last year.
The sibling duo won the peer-voted song of the year award for "Big Jet Plane" and grabbed the feted songwriter of the year gong, which was decided by the APRA board of directors. The double-triumph extends the Stones' golden run which includes the 2010 ARIA Awards for single and album of the year and the top spot on Triple J's Hottest 100 back in January.
In his acceptance speech from the podium, Angus Stone played up to the "stoner" tag which follows the popular folk act. "I told my old man I'd either grow weed or play music for a living. He said, 'don't be an idiot. You can do both'." Stone quipped. The Stone are represented by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Australia.
Guitar band Jet was another double APRA Award-winner, their song "Seventeen" (Universal Music Publishing) grabbing trophies for most performed Australian work and rock work of the year.
Songsmith Paul Kelly was bestowed the Ted Albert award for outstanding services to Australian music, named after the late founder of Albert Productions. The prolific Kelly broke with tradition by delivering only a brief speech in which he asked the audience to charge their glasses to honor the creation of new works. Kelly closed the show with a performance of "One More Tune," accompanied on piano by breakthrough songwriter of the year-winning artist Megan Washington.
If there was a sour note for the night, it came from well outside the Carriageworks venue. In the hours running up to the show, the volcanic ash plume from Chilean volcano Cordon Caulle swept across the east of the country and effectively shut down the Sydney airport, wrecking the travel plans of some visiting guests. New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based performer Kimbra was among the interstate artists stranded in Sydney the following day.
Hosts on the night were comics Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen from the controversial political-satire "The Chaser". Their hit-and-miss routine had jibes for the Australian record business ("they've sold five records -- all by the cast of Glee"), for singer Alex Lloyd, and for national minister for the arts Simon Crean, who apparently wasn't able to attend due to volcanic cloud. "It's just as well," said Hansen. "He'd have wanted to sing a song."
Pop singer Guy Sebastian was a surprise winner of the urban category. Sebastian's song "Who's That Girl," co-written with Eve Jeffers, beat-out works by Drapht, Hilltop Hoods and Bliss N Eso.
Hip-hop artist and Elefant Traks manager Tim Levinson, who performed at last year's gala with his Urthboy act, took to Twitter to pose the question on many attendees lips. "Not sure how Guy Sebastian found himself in the 'urban' nominations," he tweeted. Later, Sebastian responded to Levinson with the message, "I asked myself the same question."
In other categories, AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" (J Albert & Son) won for most played Australia work overseas, Zoe Badwi's "Free Fallin'" (EMI Music Publishing Australia/PeppermintBlue Publishing administered by Warner Chappell Music Australia) took out dance work of the year, John Butler Trio's "Close To You" (Family Music) was named blues & roots work of the year while Kasey Chambers' "Little Bird" was named the country work of the year, her 10th career APRA Award.
Established in 1982, the annual APRA awards recognize those composers and songwriters who have achieved the highest performances of their work and excellence in their craft over the previous year.