The Zambian-born, Botswana-raised singer and rapper also took out best female artist and best independent release for her debut full-length album The Return, winner of the 2019 Australian Music Prize.
Sampa also delivered one of the ARIA Awards’ highlights, a performance of “Final Form” shot in Africa.
On receiving the hip-hop honor, a category in which she “often feels isolated and masculine,” she noted: “Now we get to see a side of Australia that was never shown.”
Amy Shark opened the gala with a performance of “Everybody Rise.” Soon after, the Gold Coast singer won her seventh ARIA for best Australian live act, one of four publicly-voted ARIA Awards. She doubled-up later with best pop release, the third time she has won the award.
A breakout year for Lime Cordiale ended with ARIAs glory, as the Sydney indie outfit bagging their first ARIA Award, for breakthrough artist. Led by brothers Oliver and Louis Leimbach, the band enjoyed their first chart-leader during the year with their sophomore album, 14 Steps To A Better You.
The heart of the ARIAs program is, in a typical year, the induction ceremony for the ARIA Hall of Fame. This year’s honoree, Archie Roach, is the heart of Australia’s indigenous music community.
2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Charcoal Lane, Roach’s debut full length album which featured “Took The Children Away,” a heartbreaking tale of the enforced separation of Indigenous children from their families.
It was based on Roach’s own life and experiences.
The album received two ARIA Awards in 1991 and “Took The Children Away” received an international Human Rights Achievement Award, the first time that the award had been bestowed on a songwriter. It’s now preserved in the National Film And Sound Archive Of Australia.
Roach, now frail after several health battles, led a moving performance of the song with support from Paul Kelly, pianist Paul Grabowsky and others, filmed from his hometown Warrnambool.
On receiving the spiky trophy, Roach quipped: “They’re as lethal looking as they ever were. I’d hate to trip and fall on one.” He’ll need to be careful about the house, because his collected another two sharp trophies on the night, for best contemporary album (Tell Me Why) and male artist of the year, beating out a shortlist that included Guy Sebastian, Ruel, The Kid LAROI and Troye Sivan.
“They didn’t make a mistake?” he asked when his name was called out for best male.
With induction into the Hall of Fame, Roach now sits alongside the greats of Australia’s music scene, from AC/DC to the Bee Gees, Dame Joan Sutherland, INXS, Peter Allen, Olivia Newton John, Nick Cave and others.
The evening closed with a powerhouse tribute to the late feminist trailblazing icon and ARIA Hall of Fame Inductee Helen Reddy, who passed away Sept. 29 at the age of 78. An allstar cast of Australian female artists joined forces for a performance of “I Am Woman,” a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1972.
Amy Shark, Christine Anu, ARIAs host Delta Goodrem, Tones And I, Jessica Mauboy, Kate Miller-Heidke, Katie Noonan, Missy Higgins and Mo’Ju were among the 30-strong chorus.
“2020 has been a challenging year for the Australian music industry, but it’s clear that the quality of the music has not suffered,” comments outgoing ARIA CEO Dan Rosen. “I’m especially pleased to see the winners come from all parts of our music community, and that we could celebrate with audiences from all around the world.”
YouTube streamed performances online through an ongoing partnership, and free-to-air broadcaster Nine Network aired the show across Australia.