For the second year running, Benee has claimed the crown as Kiwi music’s ‘Queen Bee’, taking home another set of four Tuis from the freshly re-named Aotearoa Music Awards 2020, held at Spark Arena in Auckland on Sunday, November 15.
Confirming her status as New Zealand’s trailblazing pop star, Stella Bennett started her night right by claiming Tui awards as our Best Solo Artist and Best Pop Artist, before claiming Single of the Year with her Covid-lockdown global smash hit Superlonely – which also helped see her recognised with an International Achievement award for her global accomplishments over the last year.
Kiwi pop confirmed it’s firmly back on top with Auckland indie-pop band The Beths winning three of the night’s big awards. Their accolades also included second-year running-Tui trophies as Best Group and Best Alternative Artist, this year adding Album of the Year for their second album, ‘Jump Rope Gazers’, released in July.
In what seems like just the last few months, viral teen sensation Jawsh 685 has topped charts globally with variations on his track Laxed (Siren Beat) (actually first released in April), notably becoming the first Pasifika artist and only the third NZ person ever to land a No. 1 on the UK Singles chart. Josh Nanai unsurprisingly won the Tui for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, and was also named the second recipient of an International Achievement award.
Having already won a 2020 Tui for Best Pacific Group at the Pacific Music Awards earlier this year, hip hop duo Church & AP were also named as winners of Best Hip Hop Artist. Festival stage favourites L.A.B claimed the Best Roots Artist Tui as well as the 2020 People’s Choice Award. Mōhau, the supergroup collective of Rob Ruha, Ria Hall, Troy Kingi, Bella Kalolo, Majic Paora, Kaaterama Pou, Ka Hao and The Witch Doctor & Friends were also recognised with two Tui as the Best Worship Artist and Te Māngai Pāho Mana Reo Tui.
Auckland duo Lee Mvtthews were named Best Electronic Artist, while Haz & Miloux took out the Tui for Best Soul/RnB Artist and City of Souls, another supergroup of sorts, claimed the Tui for Best Rock Artist. Other 2020 winners include Best Māori Artist Maimoa, and Andrew Beer & Sarah Watkins who received the Best Classical Artist Tui.
Six60 secured the impressive hat trick of claiming the Highest Selling Artist title for a third consecutive year, while Drax Project’s Catching Feelings, featuring Six60, was named the Radio Airplay Record of the Year.
Not only was the overall award name changed in 2020, but the style of show presentation was dramatically down-scaled to a Later with Jools Holland-inspired no-stage amphitheatre arrangement. Still, with performances from Benee, The Beths, Chaii, Church & AP, City Of Souls, Jawsh685, L.A.B, Mōhau, Paige, Six60, Stan Walker, Tami Neilson and Tiki Taane, plus six special Hall of Fame-inductee honouring performances by The Levites it was a long night – a strong night given the restricted circumstances created by ongoing Covid-19 uncertainties and evident loss of corporate sponsorship.
Announced just two days ahead of the Aotearoa Music Awards ceremony, the Artisan Awards were this year pre-recorded at Massey University’s School of Music and Creative Media Production in Wellington.
Josh Fountain was named Best Producer for 2020, winning the award for the second year running largely on the back of the repeated international hits of multiple Tui-winner Benee.
Best Engineer was Simon Gooding for his work on Reb Fountain’s self-titled fourth album, which saw her a finalist in three categories.
First-time Artisan Award nominee Anahera Parata received the Tui for Best Music Video with the powerful fly on the wall-styled video for hip hop act SWIDT’s track Bunga. Wellington artist Lily Paris West was presented with the Tui for Best Album Artwork for her work on her band Mermaidens‘ album ‘Look Me In The Eye’.
The Manager of the Year title was also bestowed at the Artisan Awards by the Music Managers Forum (NZ), going to Paul McKessar from CRS Management, who currently has Benee heading his busy artist roster.