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05 Oct 2018


The time is ripe to cast the spotlight on diverse female artists at the inaugural Australian Women in Music Awards

While gender equality, if not yet achieved, is a front-line issue, cultural diversity is not receiving comparable attention. A unique partnership is taking on both fronts simultaneously.

In a collaborative effort to turn the spotlight on diversity and equality in the Australian music industry, community organisation Settlement Services International (SSI) together with the Australian Women in Music Awards (AWMA) have joined forces through a groundbreaking initiative and will be taking six female artists to attend the Awards ceremony in Brisbane this month.

The cohort of female artists includes an eclectic mix of diverse talent and skills across genres and cultures.

Meet Zela Margossian: an Armenian-Lebanese jazz composer and artist. Zela’s music has been described as “Armenian folk-jazz”, “ethno-jazz” or a “fusion of folk and jazz with traditional Armenian musical influences”. It’s hard to place a neat label on it.

Zela has performed internationally with piano solo recitals in Beirut, Yerevan, New Jersey, Montreal and Sydney, including a performance with the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra.

More recently, Zela has been making her mark as a blossoming artist with her band, the Zela Margossian Quintet, and has made appearances at festivals such as the International Women’s Jazz Festival 2017 and the Beirut International Jazz Festival 2018.

The Zela Margossian Quintet debut album is scheduled for release in November 2018.

Armenian-Lebanese jazz composer and artist Zela Margossian.

Meet Non Chalant: co-founder of Club Swytch a DJ collective seeking to subvert Sydney’s nightlife by putting on inclusive events.

Born out of a frustration with the mainstream club scene, the music Swytch plays and loves ranges from deep house to vogue and Afrobeat, with an all-female/gender neutral lineup.

Non Chalant says “For me, making music is an exploration of my own complex identity and experiences that many mixed-race/second generation immigrants similarly experience, especially in regards to our relationships with home countries and cultures.

“I co-founded Club Swytch with two friends to actively make a change in the culture of the Sydney dance music scene.”

 Non Chalant Monica2

Co-founder of Club Swytch Non Chalant.

Meet Zeadala: a South-West Sydney musician who is a voice for underrepresented women of colour in the Australian music scene. As a triple-j Unearthed artist, Zeadala’s music is described as a fusion of hip-hop, jazz and bossa nova, and as a performer, she challenges normative narratives with a unique style, simple yet rhythmic guitar compositions, amiable vocals and bold lyrics.

Zeadala has supported international artists like Omar Offendum at his exclusive concert in Sydney and Akala at his artists and community talks as part of Sydney Ideas at The Seymour Centre.

Meet Irene Pedrino: founding member of Stayfly Sydney an initiative that promotes female artists and musicians in the Sydney arts community to thrive. As a platform creating new collaborations, connections and friendships, Stayfly is a community representing female artists from diverse backgrounds and skills.

Irene was born in Milan where she graduated from music school before moving to Sydney. Irene has a diploma in Interactive Digital Media and attended the College of Fine Arts. Her passion for music and art is what led her to launch Stayfly, a space that empowers and showcases female creatives.

Meet Pamela Rodriguez: a newly arrived singer and guitarist from Chile. As a singer known for promoting spaces for cultural exchange through art, Pamela is a part of Teyuna Collective, a band of roving musicians who collaborate on different musical projects. She is also the founder of Maroubra Caves, a local South-American community fostering culture through music.

As a singer and guitarist, she has performed in wide-spanning festivals in Chile, Catalonia and Australia, both independently and accompanying various artists. Her voice emerges from the soul.

Meet Shahnaz Martin: an Iranian classically-trained setar player who arrived in Australia from Tehran in 2006. Shahnaz studied “Radif” classical Persian music for five years and had been performing setar ever since.

Since in Australia, Shanaz has completed her qualifications in Interpreting and Translation in Community Services and works as a community engagement worker sharing her talent at a wide range of community events such as Harmony Day, Refugee Week and Giant Multicultural Festival.

About the Awards

AWMA recognises the contribution and value of First Nations and multicultural performers by acknowledging excellence in artistry and musicianship, technical and production skills, cross-cultural development, songwriting, music education, music photography, filmmaking, management, humanitarian work, leadership and more.

AWMA is the brainchild of Founding Director and Sydney-based music producer Vicki Gordon. AWMA was established to address the under-representation of Australian women artists on the radio, in festival line-ups, as award recipients, on stage, backstage and in the boardrooms of the Australian music industry by empowering women and recognising their value, achievements and contributions.

Aware that equality will be only achieved in the Australian music industry when women from all backgrounds have equal access and opportunity, the AWMA and SSI partnership aims to create a platform where culturally diverse female artists can become recognised for their talents and contributions to the Australian music industry. Through joint commitment and collaboration to the cause, the opportunity is ripe to cast the spotlight on talented women of all backgrounds.

Keeping diversity front of mind, SSI is also sponsoring the Diversity in Music Award, recognising individual artists or female-driven musical collaborations for their contribution to advancing a more culturally diverse and inclusive music industry.

The inaugural Australian Women in Music Awards (AWMA) will be staged in QLD at the Brisbane Powerhouse, October 9-10, 2018. AWMA will present a series of free forums, a keynote address by Kate Ceberano, a film screening, a photographic exhibition and unique networking opportunities.

This article was originally written for LoudMouth – The Music Trust E-Zine

Click here to access the original article on their website including more info about the Awards. 

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