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Arias 2021: Genesis Owusu, the Kid Laroi and Budjerah dominate Australia’s biggest music awards – The Guardian

Arias 2021: Genesis Owusu, the Kid Laroi and Budjerah dominate Australia’s biggest music awards

Australia’s most popular music awards night was a celebration of diverse artists – but relegated to a mostly pre-recorded stream for the second year in a row

Genesis Owusu

After just four years on the Australian music scene, 23-year-old independent artist Genesis Owusu has dominated the country’s top music awards, collecting four Arias on Wednesday night.

The Ghanian-Australian (real name Kofi Owusu-Ansah), who also performed a medley of his hip-hop/funk hits, collected album of the year, best hip-hop release and best independent release for Smiling With No Teeth – which was also the recipient of ABC’s J award last week. The album also won the Aria award for best cover art, co-designed by the performer and Bailey Howard.

“This is insane,” Owusu-Ansah said, accepting album of the year. “I used to get side-eyed a lot when I was younger for the way I dressed and the things I did … But all the people I loved and respected always stood firm, immovable, unshakeable because we knew the power in who we were and what we created. I’m lost for words honestly. this means so much for me … It’s not for us to change for people; it’s up to them to catch up, and see what they’ve been missing out on.”

For the second year in a row, most speeches and performances were pre-recorded due to Covid-19 restrictions. The rest of the event was hosted and broadcast live on YouTube from Taronga Zoo in Sydney, in one of the most low-key ceremonies of the Aria’s 34-year history.

Artwork from Genesis Owusu’s Smiling With No Teeth album

Song of the year went to indie rock band Spacey Jane, for the single Booster Seat, which was voted number 2 on the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown last year.

The Kid Laroi – real name Charlton Howard – also continued his extraordinary career trajectory on Wednesday night, taking out the Arias’ best artist and best pop release categories. “Wow I guess this is a great start to the night,” he said, winning best pop release, which was presented by Charlie XCX via video link. “A big shout out to my brother Justin Bieber for being a part of this record and helping make it so special.”

In his second speech, accepting best artist, Howard said it had been an “incredible night”: “I feel so blessed and overwhelmed … It’s incredible I’m getting so much love, especially from home, that means the world to me.”

The Sydney-born Kamilaroi performer – described by Billboard as music’s next global superstar – also sent in a pre-recorded performance of his Bieber-featuring hit Stay (sans Bieber): the last performance his fans will see in a while. Last week, the 18-year-old announced he was stepping out of the spotlight for an unspecified period to work on his first album. “I’ll be back next year,” he said at the Arias.

Earlier this month the Kid Laroi was named artist of the year at the 2021 National Indigenous Music Awards.

Another First Nations artist, Bundjalung rapper Budjerah, won his first Aria on Wednesday, awarded the Michael Gudinski breakthrough artist gong for his self-titled debut EP, named for the music promoter who died in March this year.

The award was presented via video link by Ed Sheeran, who paid tribute to the promoter: “Every time I would see him he’d have a new a band or artist that he would play for me,” Sheeran said. “In ten, 20 years when new artists are still coming through, his name is still going to be part of what he loved.”

Budjerah accepted the awards through tears. “I only spoke to him twice, but he opened a lot of doors for me. I still can’t believe it, this is insane.”


Favourite Kiwi-bred band Crowded House, now 36 years old, won best adult contemporary album for Dreamers Are Waiting.

And more than a quarter of a century after winning the Aria for best country album with Beyond the Dancing, Troy Cassar-Daley won the category once more for The World Today.

Archie Roach won for blues and roots.

Rüfüs Du Sol was named best group, and performed their single Alive, which also won best dance release, via video from Los Angeles. Sydney trio Middle Kids won best rock album for Today We Are the Greatest, and Zimbabwe-born artist Tkay Maidza won best soul/R&B release for her single Last Year Was Weird, Vol 3.

Best live act went to Sydney sibling duo Lime Cordiale, who won best breakthrough artist at last year’s Aria awards.

By public vote, Taylor Swift was named most popular international artist for the second time. She accepted via a video message, thanking her fans: “I can’t wait until I can come back and see you”.

Despite being nominated across six categories, multi-Aria award winner of previous years, Amy Shark, walked away empty handed. The singer-songwriter performed Love Songs Ain’t For Us at Wednesday night’s ceremony.

One notable absence

This year’s awards had one notable absence: former Sony Music Australia boss Denis Handlin, who was also chairman of the Arias until his removal from Sony in June.

Since the music awards’ inception in 1987, almost all Sony artists have paid special tribute to Sony’s longstanding chief executive, crediting Handlin in all their acceptance speeches.

“Denis insisted marketing and promotions people instruct artists to thank him in speeches at special events, award presentations … especially the Aria awards,” a former senior Sony executive told the Guardian, during its investigation into allegations by former Sony employees of a toxic workplace culture at Sony Australia, published in June.

“Charity, staff and artist awards were an opportunity to focus the spotlight on himself and there was rigour around the proceedings and wording.”

Acceptance speeches by artists were vetted by Handlin or senior staff, and often the words “family man” were inserted to describe him, another former senior staffer told the Guardian.

“At company events staff were told to clap and cheer loudly for his speeches and presentations, especially in front of visiting overseas Sony executives and staff. There were consequences if the room was, in his view, ‘flat’.”

The consequences of Shark forgetting to thank Handlin for one Aria award in 2018 are well-known in the industry (she was summoned to Sony’s offices the next day to publicly apologise).

“This was not an isolated incident, it was mandatory for decades,” the former executive said.

The Guardian sought comment from Handlin for this story.

On 15 October, Handlin was stripped of his 2014 Aria icon award– an award he actively lobbied to create a year earlier, with the inaugural gong going to Michael Gudinski.

No icon award was allocated on Wednesday night.

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New Kenny G doc explores his massive success and criticism – The Zimbabwe Mail

Kenny G

NEW YORK (AP) — Kenny Gorelick, known to millions as Kenny G, has been one of the most beloved — and hated — figures in music throughout the last three decades. But the music superstar, synonymous for his long, curly brown hair as much as for his soprano saxophone, has ignored his critics and remained largely unbothered, well before the term was a popular social media hashtag.

“If you’re going to criticize me, I’m just not going to go with that because I already know that I’m doing my very, very best. So, there’s where the confidence comes from,” said the Grammy winner. “Did it ever really hurt me? Honestly, no. Because I’ve got my armor of knowing I’m doing my very, very best. That’s why I practice every day… I’m never a little rusty — ever.”

Kenny G’s unconventional journey to the top — and the jazz purists’ feathers he’s ruffled along the way — is explored in the new documentary “Listening to Kenny G” directed by Penny Lane, which premieres Friday at 8 p.m. EST on HBO. In addition to the criticism, the film details his Seattle upbringing, being discovered by legendary music executive Clive Davis, and the massive success of hit songs like “ Silhouette,” “ Songbird ” and “ Sentimental.”

The Associated Press spoke with Kenny G, who will also release a new album called “New Standards” on Friday, about his participation in the film, his legacy, and working with current megastar artists like Kanye West and The Weeknd. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

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AP: The film opens up with some very harsh criticism of you, but you seem to have tough skin. Was there ever a time it bothered you?

KENNY G: Since the ’80s, I’ve always thought of it kind of this way: They don’t particularly like my style of music. So the songs I put out, especially once they got popular— of course, once they got popular — they hated it more… They’re just thinking that maybe I’m just creating these melodies because I know somehow it’s going to sell records and I’m going to be rich and famous because of this, which I had no idea of. I’m just playing songs the way that I hear them. I love a melody that’s played properly.

AP: What convinced you to participate in a documentary with Penny Lane?

KENNY G: She was not necessarily a fan of my music, which I thought was cool that she said that right off the bat. But not that she didn’t like it, she just wasn’t this big fan that wanted to make a movie about me. She just said that there’s a story to tell about how “there’s a group of people that really have a problem with your success. And I’d like to tell that story.” I said, “I’ve been hearing that since the ’80s.”

AP: Because you’ve faced so much criticism from jazz purists, do you think you’ve influenced up-and-coming jazz artists?

KENNY G: I think so in some ways. You know, first: the fact that the saxophone is out there so much — that people are hearing the sax. I know the soprano sax has definitely gotten a resurgence because of me and the fact that I’ve been out there so much with the soprano, mostly.

AP: You’ve connected with Kanye West and the Weeknd. Is that how you’ve stayed current?

KENNY G: I’m really flattered when I get those phone calls from Kanye and then The Weeknd, of course. It makes me feel great that somehow they want my sound to be part of their music. And they’re so popular now — they don’t need me. I’m not doing them a big favor. They’re not reaching out to me so I can help them sell records. They’re just doing it purely because creatively, they think, “Oh, wow, (we love) your sound.”

AP: Kenny, what do you think your legacy will be? I think the documentary leads to that question.

KENNY G: Gosh, I’ve never even thought about something like that. I don’t think of myself so seriously to have a legacy. But I mean, I don’t know — hopefully it inspires people to want to play the saxophone… Maybe part of my legacy is people really interested maybe more in me because of the notoriety that I have, but maybe I can steer them towards some of the old traditional jazz stuff that they may not have ever heard, and I can keep that music alive longer. ___

Follow Associated Press entertainment journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton with his handle @GaryGHamilton on all social media platforms.

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Pastor stuck in immigration slowdown | CTV News – CTV News London

Huron County, Ont. –

For the past year and half, there’s been no one to lead services at Pine River United Church near Ripley, Ont.

“We’re missing the continuity of having a regular minister every week with us, and pastoral care. Things we’ve always counted on before,” says congregation member and music director, Patt Lowry.

Pine River’s minister retired 14 months ago. In May, following an exhaustive search, the congregation decided to hire Reverend Wonder Chimvinga from Zimbabwe.

His immigration application was submitted in June and the congregation expected him to arrive in six to nine weeks’ time.

“We’re now at week 24,” says congregation member and part of the search committee, Janice Curtis. “He got terrible news a week ago, that (his immigration application) had been turned down by the High Commission in Pretoria, so the United Church of Canada has now hired an immigration lawyer that’s now working with him,” she says.

Curtis says it appears their new minister is caught up in a confusing immigration backlog.

“It seems to be they’re kind of obsessed with whether he’ll actually return to Zimbabwe at the end of his stay. Of course, we’re hoping he’s on the track to permanent residency and eventually citizenship. That’s what he wants to do,” says Curtis.

Complicating matters, Chimvinga sold his car and some other personal belongings to pay for the immigration application, so he and his three children, are left in limbo along with the congregation.

“Apparently it’s not all that uncommon in that part of the world, for the first time to be turned down, so we’re hopeful eventually it will come to pass,” says Curtis.

Local MP Ben Lobb is now on the case, along with the immigration minister, to try and get Pine River’s reverend, to Canada. However, flights from Zimbabwe are currently banned from entering the country due to concerns over the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

“We were pretty excited in the beginning. This is something brand new for this area to have someone from Zimbabwe. It’s just kind of gone the other way lately,” says Lowry.

The congregation recently held a ‘pray-in,’ appealing to a higher power to deliver their new reverend from immigration purgatory.

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Chimedza reflects on mbira music – NewsDay

MBIRA Centre founder Albert Chimedza said they would reopen in the first quarter of next year having temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with NewsDay Life & Style, Chimedza said improvisation and entrepreneurship around the mbira instrument were some of the ways to bring relief from economic difficulties during the COVID-19 challenges.

“We shut the workshop when the pandemic started in 2020.

“We are carrying out work to make all Mbira Centre workspaces compliant with COVID-19 regulations. We plan to restart production in the first quarter of 2022,” he said.

“In the midst of COVID-19 difficult times, we went ahead with the online festivals and continued to work on the formalisation of the Mbira Guild of Zimbabwe.”

An accomplished mbira player and manufacturer, Chimedza said artistes must think outside the box in this COVID-19 environment.

“COVID-19 is offering new challenges and opportunities.  It does not hurt to try some new thinking and ways of doing things,” he said.

“Collectively as Zimbabweans, with clarity of purpose and an entrepreneurial spirit in mbira practice, mbira can go far in the coming years.”

Chimedza said there would be more interaction between mbira and other music forms.

“More people from non-mbira music backgrounds will engage the instrument and, hopefully, bring in new music possibilities and dimensions to the instrument,” he said.

  • Follow us on Twitter @NewsDayZimbabwe

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