Thelma Plum has taken out the top place in the world’s largest music prize for songwriting, for her 2019 hit, Better In Blak. Her work as a proud Gamilaraay singer-songwriter has pocketed $50,000 in the Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition for 2020, after placing as a runner-up back in 2013 for Breathe In, Breathe Out.
“I am so honoured that ‘Better in Blak’ has won the Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition, I can’t even really describe it,” Thelma said about her huge win.
“Vanda & Young was kind to me early in my career when I received a runner-up prize for ‘Breathe In Breathe Out’, I could never have imagined then that one day I would win.”
She also thanked her co-writers Alex Burnett and Oli Horton for working with her on the track that calls out racial abuse after she was at the receiving end of a particularly horrific avalanche of messages while recording in London in 2018.
My heartfelt thanks to everyone who connected to a song that is deeply personal, written when I was feeling very alone,” she said.
“I don’t feel alone today.”
That wasn’t all she took home from the awards, with Thelma also pocketing another $1000 as one of 10 runners-up for the Australasian Music Publishers Association (AMPAL) Emerging Songwriter Prize, alongside the likes of Gordi, Lime Cordiale, Annie Hamilton, and Vera Blue.
Eternal legend Baker Boy came in second place in the Vanda & Young awards, taking in a solid $10,000.
“I was blown away that I even made the shortlist so to come second is just crazy,” he said.
“It feels really special that my Yolngu Matha lyrics are getting this kind of recognition.
“Couldn’t have done it without my co-writers JessB, Jerome Farah, Dallas Woods and Dion Brownfield.”
Coming in third and picking up a tight $5k from the awards was Ruel, for his track Painkiller, a huge effort for a kid who burst onto the scene back in 2017 at the age of 14.
The Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition is the largest cash prize for songwriting in the world, and is named after Aussie songwriting duo Harry Vanda and George Young from The Easybeats.
In past years, artists like Matt Corby, Amy Shark, and Megan Washington have taken out the title, so having not one but two Indigenous artists nab the top two spots in this year’s awards is bloody huge.