With four trophies, young hitmaker Sarah Aarons was the big winner Tuesday night (April 30) at the APRA Music Awards, while Amy Shark took out the coveted, peer-voted APRA song of the year with her hit “I Said Hi.”
Melbourne-born and raised, L.A.-based Aarons earned the 2019 APRA songwriter of the year category, recognition for amassing an impressive body of work over the past 12 months during which time she wrote songs with or for Camila Cabello, Galantis, Khalid, Dua Lipa, Lykke Li, Demi Lovato, Mabel, Peking Duk, Jessie Ware and others. “Australia is the best kind of petri dish for growing world class music makers,” APRA chair Jenny Morris said in her opening remarks.
Aarons converted all four of her nominations, the 24-year-old winning for most played Australian work and dance work of the year for her contribution to the Grammy-nominated crossover smash “The Middle,” performed by Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey (and co-written with Jordan Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax, Kyle Trewartha, Michael Trewartha and Anton Zaslavski). She also scooped rock work of the year for The Rubens’ “Never Ever,” co-written by the indie rock act’s band members Elliott Margin and Sam Margin.
Aarons’ massive night comes just one year out from taking APRA’s breakthrough songwriter of the year award. “I lived my whole life to win more awards than Dean Lewis, and I’ve done that,” quipped Aarons as she brought her family on stage to celebrate her win for “most played.”
It was also a triumphant night for Gold Coast singer and songwriter Amy Shark who, at the third attempt, took out song of the year night’s for “I Said Hi”. Shark, whose debut album Love Monster cleaned up at last year’s ARIA Awards, additionally won for pop work of the year. “This year the female community is being highlighted,” noted Tina Arena as she announced Shark as the song of the year winner. “I was a little nervous when I released this song because it’s a little fiery, But I guess I’d rather be finery than boring,” Shark said after taking the pop award. “This is the best night of my life.”
Also joining the winners’ circle was rising Sydney star Dean Lewis, who snagged breakthrough songwriter of the year, just a month after his debut LP A Place We Knew bowed atop the ARIA Album Chart. Lewis and his collaborator Jon Hume also claimed an outstanding international achievement award for “Be Alright,” which went to No. 1 in Australia and cracked the top 40 on both sides of the Atlantic.
The other International achievement honor, a category determined by the APRA board in recognition of exceptional accomplishments globally, went to 5 Seconds of Summer for “Youngblood,” a domestic chart-topping hit which became the Sydney foursome’s first Billboard Hot 100 top 10 single, and fueled the pop-punk outfit to become the first Aussie act to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with their first three albums.
Other winners at the APRAs included Nashville-based songwriter Lindsay Rimes (overseas recognition award), Hilltop Hoods (urban work of the year for “Clark Griswold” featuring Adrian Eagle), Morgan Evans (country work of the year for “Day Drunk,” co-written by Chris DeStefano and Lindy Robbins), Sia (most played Australian work overseas for “Cheap Thrills” co-written with Greg Kurstin), and Angus & Julia Stone (blues & roots work of the year for “Chateau”) while Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” was declared international work of the year.
In a touching salute, the late country music promoter and artist manager Rob Potts was feted with the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music, one of the highest honors in the territory’s music industry. One-time Australian of the Year Lee Kernaghan inducted Potts and paid tribute to the man who “planted the seeds for a country revolution.” Potts, who lost his life in a motorbike accident in October 2017, was remembered for his tireless support for country in his homeland and for championing artists in Australia and abroad, from Keith Urban to Troy Cassar-Daley, Morgan Evans and many others. Previous recipients of the Ted Albert Award include Michael Gudinski and Michael Chugg, Lindy Morrison of the Go-Betweens, former Albert Music CEO Fifa Riccobono, Archie Roach and last year’s winner, Midnight Oil.
Established in 1982, the Australasian Performing Right Association’s annual songwriters’ ceremony is one of the Australian music industry’s most treasured events, a worthy counterpart to Britain’s Ivor Novello Awards.
Winners this time were announced during a ceremony at Melbourne’s Town Hall. For more information visit the APRA website.