The 33rd annual Australian Record Industry Awards at Sydney's The Star casino on Wednesday has seen Indigenous artist Kaiit claim her very first industry accolade for best soul and R&B release.
On accepting the award for her single, Miss Shiney, the 22-year-old Melbourne-based performer thanked "family, friends and ancestors" and said she wants to use her position as an Aboriginal woman to "send messages of guidance" through her music.
“Look at what I can do as a person of colour and in this industry... and with the impact I can make ... with my words,” she said.
The Gunditjmara and Torres Strait Islander artist has risen to fame over the past year thanks to her song Miss Shiney, released in May. The winning song explores writers block inflicted by self-doubt.
Speaking with NITV News on the ARIA red carpet, Kaiit said she is now working on new music which is expected to be released early next year.
“I’m working on fire music. Just came back from Bali and that was the first solo trip by myself so I’ve just been getting down to it and writing music,” she said.
"Singing to people is a goal, for people to be able to hear me and get something from it".
She also acknowledged her ancestors for giving her the guidance and strength to be able to produce music.
“Thanks to all my ancestors for always being in front of me and around me, we are doing this together I promise,” she said.
Seven Indigenous artists were nominated for awards on the night, including first-time nominees Kaiit and Baker Boy, Electric Fields, Jessica Mauboy, Thelma Plum, Briggs, Dan Sultan.
Dan Sultan took out Best Children’s Album for his release, Nali & Friends, eclipsing international superstars, The Wiggles.
“[The award] is not the reason we do it, but it feels good." he said after returning from the dais. "To have that recognition is nice."
Gamilaroi woman Thelma Plum was also nominated for six awards on the night, including Album of the Year for her debut record Better in Blak, and for Best Female Artist.
She told NITV News that her nominations were “overwhelming” but “also very exciting.”
“It’s exciting, I think there’s a lot of Aboriginal people nominated and it’s awesome. This is how I believe it should be,” she said.
“I think we have the most talent and it should be recognised and I’m glad that it's finally being recognised on the mainstream platform like the ARIAs, and I look forward to next year for there being even more.”
Thelma said her hit song Better in Blak was a track for every Aboriginal woman in Australia.
“Being an Aboriginal woman is one of the hardest things in Australia but I’m so proud of myself and my culture... I just think even if they're against us we are so resilient, we are so strong,” she said.
“People, a lot of the time, try to take the colour away from the conversation... but I’m not able to do that. I’m always an Aboriginal woman.”
Darwin songstress, Jessica Mauboy, walked into the ARIA Awards with nominations for Best Female Artist and Best Video.
“The Message that I want to give is... believe in your truth because it is all about truth because that’s what makes you open and aware but also mindful and powerful because if that’s in check everything else will flow in life,” she told NITV News on the red carpet.
“And love yourself, you have to love yourself to love life.”
ARIA Award Winners 2019
Best Australian Live Act: Hilltop Hoods
Best Male Artist: Dean Lewis
Best Children's Album: Dan Sultan
Best Female Artist: Tones and I
Best Pop Release: Tones and I
Best Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Album: Northlane
Best Country Album: Morgan Evans
Best Group: The Teskey Brothers
Best International Artist: Taylor Swift
Best Video: Guy Sebastian
Best Independent Release: Tones and I
Best Adult Contemporary Album: Paul Kelly
Best Rock Album: Amyl and the Sniffers
Best Comedy Release: Arj Barker
Best Soul/R&B Release: Kaiit
Best Hip Hop Release: Sampa the Great
Best Breakthrough Artist: Tones and I
Album of the Year: Dean Lewis
Song of the Year: Guy Sebastian
Teacher of the Year: Antonio Chiappetta