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Professional Development Awards winners announced

Media Published Thursday 24 June 2021
Top L-R: Jesswar, Freya Berkout, Sarah Buckely, Chris Arnott Middle L-R: Alex Lahey, Steve Barry, Connor D’Netto Bottom L-R: Jeremy Marou, Woodes, Naomi Livingston, Hugo Chiarella

The winners of the 2021 Professional Development Awards (PDAs) have been announced, including Alex Lahey, Jesswar & Steve Barry.

The PDAs provide $10,000 to developing songwriters & composers across multiple genres

APRA AMCOS will now be presenting the PDAs annually


An exciting next wave of Australian songwriters and composers have been announced as the recipients of the 2021 APRA Professional Development Awards (PDAs).

APRA AMCOS is delighted to now present the PDAs annually to honour developing songwriters and composers across a range of genres, providing a $10,000 cash award at a crucial stage in their career.

The 2021 APRA PDAs showcase music creators across multiple disciplines, from Fijian hip-hop artist Jesswar to contemporary composer Connor D’Netto, to screen composer and creative technologist Freya Berkhout, innovative pop artist Woodes and inaugural Music Theatre honourees Hugo Chiarella and Naomi Livingston.

Congratulations to the 2021 PDA recipients:

Alex Lahey – Popular Contemporary

Elle Graham pka Woodes / Tornado Club – Popular Contemporary

Connor D’Netto – Classical / Experimental

Sarah Buckley – The Buckleys – Country / Americana

Christopher Arnott pka Friendless – Dance/ Electronic

Jessica Koroi pka Jesswar – Hip Hop / Rap / R&B / Soul

Freya Berkhout – Film and Television / Gaming

Steve Barry – Jazz / Improvised Music

Hugo Chiarella & Naomi Livingston – Paradise Road – Music Theatre

Jeremy Marou – Smugglers of Light Foundation Music and Media Award

“Our objective and intention with the Professional Development Awards is simple – provide recognition and financial support to developing songwriters and composers, so they can continue to follow their dream,” said APRA AMCOS Chief Executive Dean Ormston.

“It’s a challenging time for anyone in contemporary music. Event cancellations and postponements and restricted travel translates into limited career development and a lack of international opportunities for our members. APRA AMCOS applauds this year’s recipients for their vision and tenacity, and we’re excited to see what they will achieve next.”

Each winner is awarded a $10,000 cash prize as well as a prize from Australis Music ranging from an Epihone Casino Coupe guitar to a Behringer POLY-D Synth.

Musician, songwriter and youth worker, Jeremy Marou, has been named the recipient of the $12,000 Music and Media Award grant from the Smugglers of Light, a foundation set up by Australian composer and conductor Nigel Westlake in memory of his son Eli Westlake, who was tragically killed in 2008 at the age of 21.

“For over 10 years Jeremy Marou has been forging a career as one of Australia's leading singer-songwriters and is also a prominent role model for young and emerging artists in his community. We are thrilled to be able to offer Jeremy this opportunity to expand his writing and compositional skills, whilst taking time to reconnect with his Torres Strait Islander roots and share his skills and experiences with his community,” said Nigel Westlake.

A panel of judges comprising Brooke McClymont, Caitlin Yeo, Dom Alessio, Jenny Morris, Joel Ma, Pip Norman, Yve Blake and more have determined the impressive winners from a pool of close to 1,000 applicants.

Previous PDA winners include Gotye, Ainslie Wills, Julia Jacklin, Ecca Vandal, Ruby Boots, Briggs, Morgan Evans, Sally Seltmann and screen composer Pru Montin.

APRA AMCOS NZ has also announced the 6 recipients of their Professional Development Awards - Emi Pogoni, Jolyon Mulholland, Lisa Crawley, Maree Sheehan, Phodiso Dintwe, and Valentine Nixon. Due to post-COVID circumstances, we decided to make adjustments to the way the PDA awards are distributed. Instead of $30k being split between three disciplines: Pop/Contemporary, Screen/Film, and Classical - six winners were chosen by reflecting the diverse music industry with each recipient receiving $5k. Read all about those winners here.

A playlist featuring the work of PDAs finalists is available on Spotify and Apple Music.