From newcomers like Julia Jacklin to twelve time ARIA winner Kasey Chambers, Katie Noonan rightly declares the ARIA Awards a "great time for celebrating badass women".

Kasey Chambers won Best Country Album at the 2017 ARIA Awards. Image by Alex Carlyle for Music Love

Kasey Chambers won Best Country Album at the 2017 ARIA Awards. Image by Alex Carlyle for Music Love

It is without a doubt Australian music's night of nights, and is a finger on the pulse of the state of the industry. Music Love sent Fenella Henderson-Zuel to be on the ground from go to woe to report back on all things women at the 2017 ARIA Awards. 

Music Love writer Fenella Henderson-Zuel on the 2017 ARIA Awards red carpet on Tuesday

Music Love writer Fenella Henderson-Zuel on the 2017 ARIA Awards red carpet on Tuesday

Kasey Chambers can’t remember how many ARIA Awards she has won.  After receiving the award (her twelfth) for best country album at last night’s 2017 ARIA Awards ceremony she noted that the pointed statues are becoming a hazard with small children in the house. The singer/songwriter’s children were clearly at the front of her mind as she ran out onto the stage to accept her award, having been caught up backstage getting ready to present the award for Best Male Artist to Paul Kelly later in the evening.

“My life is so weird!” Kasey said as she stepped up to the microphone. “I was literally getting nits out of my kids hair this morning.” The mother of three was quick to thank the numerous artists who contributed to her album Dragonfly, including Paul Kelly, Foy Vance and Ed Sheeran, noting that collaborators “take a song to a whole other level”.

Kasey has had a busy couple of years and her experiences heavily influenced her award-winning album, from relationship changes to having surgery to remove the vocal nodes she has lived with for twenty years.

“[I’ve been] travelling more in the last eighteen months than in the rest of my life. Tonight is my last commitment – less so the ARIAs, more the after party! During this last record, I went through a lot of different things personally and vocally. I discovered a whole new part of myself, and getting to write in a whole new way,” she tells the packed out Iain Shedden ARIA Media Suite after collecting her award.

“Going through a divorce – for a country artist there’s nothing better than that. For country singers that’s why we get married, so we can write about it.” It’s clearly worked out for Kasey. She finished her speech by shouting “there’s a lot of negativity around being a woman in this industry over forty years old but I f***ing love it!”

Kasey wasn’t the only one who seemed to be having a blast on Tuesday. The general consensus from nominees and guests was that the awards were a great excuse for a catch-up with friends and a helluva party.  Old hands like The McClymonts were enjoying a rare kid-free evening and, like many nominees, seemed far more excited to see Daryl Braithwaite be inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame than to receive an award themselves.

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The sisters said to Music Love that they were just there to have a good time as they weren’t expecting to win an award (they were also nominated for Best Country Album).

“It’s a hard category ‘cause when you’re a country musician you really only get nominated in one category. So if you do win it’s really exciting.”

Having already taken home her award for Best World Music Album at Artisan and Fine Arts Awards in November, Katie Noonan was able to sit back and enjoy the success of others. Wearing large earrings bearing the slogan ‘Woman Power’, she called the awards “a great time for celebrating badass women”.

“I’m looking forward to applauding all my fellow awesome musicians who are smashing it, as well as a rather loud rendition of The Horses.  I presume Dazza Braithwaite’s gonna rock that out.”

ARIA newbies were also keen to just sit back and take it all in.  Julia Jacklin, nominated for Best Female Artist for Don’t Let The Kids Win, was just “trying to relax” and have no expectations about the night. Enjoying some well deserved time off before working on a new record in the new year, Julia, like most of the younger guests, was particularly keen to see superstar Lorde perform.

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Brisbane rapper Mallrat - recently featured on Apple Music's top radio show Beats 1 with Zane Lowe - was excited to see Lorde but was slightly preoccupied by hunger as she had forgotten to have breakfast before making her way onto her first ARIA red carpet. The diminutive teenager was having a night off before touring next month, with a sold out  show in December as well as an all ages show in January.

All female band, the fabulously named All Our Exes Live In Texas, were excited for another international guest performer – for One Direction member Harry Styles. And free champagne. Although they went on to win the ARIA Award for Best Blues and Roots Album, the four young women were so confident that they wouldn’t be able to pip heavyweights Archie Roach and Paul Kelly that they had failed to write an acceptance speech.

“Our reactions were half like ‘wow that’s so lovely’ and half like, ‘Oh god, what are we gonna say?’ Super exciting but also quite scary.”

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All Our Exes Live In Texas 2017 ARIAs

One notable newcomer was ARIA Music Teacher of the Year Renee Macarthy from Woodcroft College in Adelaide. Having taught students for seven years, she was delighted to accept a brand new award that “recognised music teachers all across Australia and the value of music”.

“I’m blessed to have an amazing job. Music brings people together across all year levels and you can get away from any problems and just escape,” Renee explained. “It’s like a creative outlet for the soul. Winning has changed my life because it’s just a job for me that I love. So to be recognised in that way is just priceless, a big honour. My students are so beautiful. I’m a lucky lady.”

Newcomer Amy Shark got off to a good start by winning the first award, Best Pop Release, for her album Night Thinker. She later performed the album’s hit single Adore before returning to the stage to accept her second ARIA Award for Best Breakthrough Artist. Amy noted in her second acceptance speech that the difficulty she had attracting attention to her work meant that there were “a lot of years when I was really frustrated by the industry because I’d been writing music for a really long time and I just wanted everyone to hear it. I was wrong. I realise now you are all amazing people.”

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Amy Shark ARIAS 2017.JPG

“Everything happens for a reason. Just concentrate on what you’re doing. Really love it. If you love song writing, just write a good song. Don’t do it to be famous. Just do it for yourself. Be honest with yourself. If you honestly love it then you’ll be successful.”

Amy Shark

 

She later elaborated on her statements, noting that her road to success “was no walk in the park”.

“There were many people who wouldn’t respond. I would [write songs] for therapy, and I didn’t want to chase any more people because it hurts too much. The last thing I wanted to do [before I gave up] was work with a great producer. I had to apply for a government grant ‘cause I couldn’t afford it. It was such a slog but I got that, I got to work with [producer] M-Phazes [on Adore]. And no one knew it was going to be a door [to better things]. I don’t think it would have worked if I’d been successful sooner. I wouldn’t have been able to write those songs when I was sixteen. The songs are so personal.”

Her advice for other young songwriters?

“Everything happens for a reason. Just concentrate on what you’re doing. Really love it. If you love song writing, just write a good song. Don’t do it to be famous. Just do it for yourself. Be honest with yourself. If you honestly love it then you’ll be successful.”

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FOR WOMEN

Lorde performs a medley of Liability with Green Light

Jessica Mauboy performed a mash up of hit Fallin with Song of the Year winners Peking Duck who perform Stranger

Amy Shark performs Adore

Renee McCarthy wins ARIA Teacher of the Year Award

Katie Noonan presents Amy Shark with her Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award

International Grammy nominated artist and Grammy winning songwriter Julia Michaels presents Best Female Artist to Sia

Vera Blue channeled Margaret Ulrich when she took to the stage with Guy Sebastian and ARIA Hall of Fame recipient Daryl Braithwaite to sing his epic Aussie anthem Horses