Stormy wind and rain didn’t stop an appreciative 300-strong crowd turning out to Auckland’s Q Theatre on April 20 to witness singer-songwriter Reb Fountain winning the 2021 Taite Music Prize, for her break-out album ‘Reb Fountain’.
Named after the late music journalist Dylan Taite, the Taite Music Prize recognises outstanding creativity for a collection of music contained in one recording. The 12th annual ceremony was opened by 2020 Taite winner Troy Kingi who performed a stunning reo version of his song Ethiopia from the album that won him the prize, ‘Holy Colony Burning Acres’. Again a finalist in 2021, it was a fitting reward for Kingi since last year’s celebration was an online-only affair due to Covid restrictions.
The first half of the ceremony saw Auckland band Na Noise win the 2021 Auckland Live Best Independent Debut award for their album ‘Waiting For You’, while this year’s Independent Spirit Award went to the co-founders of Smokefree Rockquest, Pete Rainey and Glenn Common. Expressing their thanks and admiration for all competitors and event supporters, they also reminded former Rockquest participants in the audience that they still keep records of those old ’embarrassing’ band name entries.
It was then time to pay respect to Patea Māori Club and their classic single Poi E, voted as this year’s Independent Music NZ Classic Record. Surviving members of Dalvanius Prime‘s pioneering kapa haka group took to the stage to accept the trophy then granted the appreciative audience a rousing performance of the song that spent four weeks at number one and a further 22 weeks in the music charts.
Beating out nine other artists in what many observers reckon was the best collection of finalists in the awards’ history, a genuinely surprised Reb Fountain was presented with the Taite Music Prize’s hefty trophy. In her acceptance speech Fountain explained just how much of a personal leap of faith the writing and recording of her 2020 self-titled album was. She paid gracious tribute to her production team, other musicians in the audience and the venue owners who have done it tough over the last year due to the pandemic, giving a shoutout to Save Our Venues.
Na Noise paid tribute to Fountain’s winning album with a performance of her song Faster to end the evening, one on which all those taking the stage seemed to express gratitude for the return to the normality of a live celebration.