Almost exactly three months after the longlist reveal, the winner of the 13th annual AMP (Australian Music Prize) – and the recipient of $30,000 from principal partner PPCA – is Sampa The Great with her album Birds And The BEE9.
“Birds And The BEE9 showcases Sampa mastering her own experiences, venting frustration at Australia’s racial challenges, and inquisitively breaking down musical barriers” – STACK‘s Tim Lambert
Triumphing amongst a very competitive pool of possibles (which included Paul Kelly, Jordan Rakei, Beaches and The Vampires), the Zambia-born, Sydney-residing poet and songwriter impressed the AMP judges with her fierce, empowered, and socially-conscious record, which was released in November last year.
Our Tim wrote of the release: “While many of the 13 tracks sway between smooth jazz beats with gospel undertones – courtesy of the record’s trio of producers (Sensible J, Kwes Darko and Alejandro Abapo) – the music is far too adventurous to simplify [Sampa Tembo’s] sounds into a single genre; there’s the snake-charming vibes of lead single Rhymes To The East; the laidback, Remi Kolawole-assisted Flowers; the seven-minute musical sojourn of Bye River and the wicked, glitchy Karma The Villain. Birds And The BEE9 showcases Sampa mastering her own experiences, venting frustration at Australia’s racial challenges, and inquisitively breaking down musical barriers.”
The Australian Music Prize’s prestige comes from its judging panel’s mission to move away from the ‘popularity contest’ of other awards ceremonies. Each panel member listened to around 400 albums this year, and in accordance with chairman Dave Faulkner’s plan to leave the final decision to the last moment, they were still deliberating on the overall winner less than an hour before the awards event began at Melbourne Town Hall today.