Australian Music Prize reveals ‘strong and diverse’ shortlist

Emma Donovan & The Putbacks (photo by Martin Philbey/supplied)

The Soundmerch Australian Music Prize has announced its 17th shortlist.

The award’s founder and director, Scott B. Murphy, called it a “very strong list.”

“It’s incredibly diverse and really captures another year of the best music around,” he said.

Of 464 albums released in 2021, the music industry jury narrowed it down to nine.

They are up for the $30,000 prize offered by main sponsor, merchandising biz Soundmerch.

The bottom nine are Amyl and The Sniffers (Comfort me), baker boy (Frost), Emma Donovan and the Returns (Under these streets), Genesis Owusu (smile without teeth), Interrupt Kaiyote (valiant mood), King Gizzard and the Lizard Sorcerer (Butterfly 3000), Martha Marlow (Wizard), Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (Carnage) and Odette (Herald).

Danzal Baker, aka Baker Boy, said he was “blown away” that Gela has been preselected.

“There’s been so much amazing music and albums released in the last year, it’s crazy to think Gela sits alongside some of the absolute best. What an honor!”

Kofi Owusu-Ansah (in the photo above), aka Genesis Owusu, said: “It is a real pleasure to be considered for the Australian Music Prize this year.

“It’s so important to have initiatives like this that really strive to validate and empower creativity above all else,” Owusu said.

Emma Donovan & The Putbacks explained: “Under these streets reflected our return to the studio and our realignment as a band coming out of a very dark and turbulent time.

“We literally ran out of lockdown and dove deep into the studio to create this album and we’re so honored that it’s been nominated for the Australian Music Prize.

“This album shows our strength as a musical unit and our relationship and trust with each other.

“We’re excited for music lovers to tune in and dig into our sounds and songs.”

In support of the AMP and to ensure it continues to champion new Australian music, labels EMI, Virgin and Island have sponsored the shortlist.

Each contributed $3,000 in cash to form a fundraising pool of $9,000 to be used so shortlisted artists could attend the winner announcement event in Melbourne on March 3.

“Virgin, Island and EMI are proud to play our small part in supporting this stellar lineup of artists and recordings,” said Virgin Music Australia Managing Director Tim Janes.

“In one of the toughest years the industry has ever faced, this is a roster of established artists familiar with AMP shortlists and emerging talent putting their hands on global recognition – all at the top of their game,” Janes said.