Australia’s annual music awards on Wednesday did not hold back or censor the ceremony - even letting two F-bombs go to air when Tim Minchin and Kate Ceberano presented the Best Female award.
While discussing the devastating impacts COVID-19 left on the shuttered live music industry, the two presenters urged the Australian public to support local musicians by going to gigs when tours start again.
“Do please buy a fucking ticket,” Tim quipped.
A stunned Kate replied, “That’s right! Buy a fucking ticket” followed by a lot of giggles and a hug from Tim.
Sampa the Great ended up winning the Best Female Artist gong and also took home the Best Independent Release and Best Hip-Hop awards.
The Melbourne-based artist, who was born in Zambia and raised in Botswana, called out systemic racism in the music industry during her ARIA performance filmed in Botswana.
She called for greater diversity amongst music industry leaders and took aim at the ARIAs for cutting her acceptance speech from the live broadcast last year.
“This industry, for people like me. Diversity, equity in your ARIA boards,” she rapped. “To my people I say... we are our own. Freedom.”
The artist then referenced Australia’s troubling history and treatment of First Nations people, before mentioning last year’s incident where her award was announced during an ad break.
“In a country that pretends to not see Black, to not see its origins and its past, not only do Black visionaries make you see, but made it clone who created human history,” she said.
“And when we win awards they toss us in ad breaks. Is that history lost? Can’t remember what you forgot. Is it free?”
Last year Sampa became the first woman of colour to win the Best Hip Hop Release category for ‘Final Form’. However, her powerful acceptance speech about diversity and inclusivity was cut from the show.
This year’s event had no red carpet and no audience with Delta Goodrem hosting live from Sydney’s Star Casino and awards presented from the stage to artists via Zoom.
Some performances were pre-recorded including Sia from the US and Sam Smith from London’s Abbey Road Studios.
Big winners included Tame Impala who won Album of the Year for ‘The Slow Rush’ and Archie Roach who was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
The showstopper moment of the evening was the tribute to the late Helen Reddy; a special rendition of ‘I Am Woman’ sung by a lineup of Australia’s top female talent including Amy Shark, Tones and I, Kate Ceberano, Christine Anu and Marcia Hines.
See the performance below:
Alicia Vrajlal contributed to this report.