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Past winners: where are they now?

Samantha Morris | March 2020

As the Gold Coast Music Awards gets ready to roll out the carpet for its sixth year, we take a look at past winners and where they are now

When the Gold Coast Music Awards launched in 2015, its goal was to shine a light on the city’s emerging talent and it’s done just that, crowning a diverse and eclectic cohort of musicians as finalists and winners every year since. That group of winners includes rising stars like Amy Shark and Hollow Coves, who sit alongside artists as diverse as Karl S Williams, Hussy Hicks, Ella Fence and Casey Barnes.

Listen to our Gold Coast Music Awards spotify list.

Amy Shark

Amy Shark has long been a vocal supporter of the city and its fledgling music scene. She was well on her way to international stardom prior to actually taking out a category, but she was named a finalist for Song, Video and Artist of the Year well before career-defining track ‘Adore’ hit the airwaves.

“The City of the Gold Coast is special to me,” Amy told wearegc.com. “So obviously the awards have always been very important to me and meant a lot.

“I am very loyal to the GC and will never forget where I started playing music. I wish all the artists the best of luck at this year’s awards.”

Casey Barnes

Recently signed to Chugg Music for management and recording and twice named a finalist for a Golden Guitar award, Casey Barnes was the first ever Gold Coast Music Awards People’s Choice winner. That’s no surprise given his profile on social media and his hugely passionate fans. Casey says winning that award was a “special moment.”

“Even more so when it was voted by your own peers and fanbase here on the Gold Coast,” he said.

“It was a similar feeling being voted the people choice award for best live act at the local Groundwater Country Music Festival last year… which is also proudly Gold Coast based.”

Casey has also just announced a new album ‘Town of a Million Dreams’ as well as an east coast tour which includes a show at Mo’s Desert Clubhouse on Sunday 19 April.

“The Gold Coast music scene is such a diverse and talented one and I think these awards draw focus on that not just locally but also on a national level now,” Casey says.

“There’s so much talent based on the Goldie these days and we should be proud of that fact. When you look at previous winners like Amy Shark and where her own personal career has gone to over the last couple of years it shows that there’s no reason why you can’t make it to that next level and still base yourself here.”

Ella Fence

Ella Fence is another artist whose career has taken great leaps since winning Video and Song of the Year in 2016. She received RADF funding through City of Gold Coast to create an album’s worth of material, which she’s just released. She’s also performed huge support slots for Katie Noonan, Kate Miller-Heidke, Montaigne, Regurgitator, Jack River and Boo Seeka while also exploring other performing arts opportunities – on stage and off.

“As a solo artist, I need to dig deep for motivation sometimes and put “non-negotiable” processes in place to keep things moving forward, which can be a tricky feat when it’s just you and your own thoughts most of the time,” Ella said. “But surrounding yourself with supportive people who can either work alongside you, or cheer you on from the sidelines, I’ve found it the key to me holding myself accountable and achieving my goals.”

“Awards programs such as the Gold Coast Music Awards can really add to that inner motivation and centre of gravity when furthering your career and establishing yourself as an artist, because having a trophy or a plaque as a winner or finalist, that is up in your house for you to walk past every day, is a little reminder that there are people out there who you respect and admire, the work that you do.”

Ella Fence is currently touring her new release and you can catch her at a heap of gigs across the Gold Coast including at Cambus Wallace, Burleigh Brewing Co., The Scottish Prince and Komune.

Of course the career highlights don’t stop there for past winners.

Karl S Williams

Karl S Williams took out Artist of the Year in 2015 and his devotion to artistic development has not waivered. His just-released album ‘Lifeblood’ was seven years in the making and taking the album on the road has resulted in full rooms across the country.

Hussy Hicks

Hussy Hicks have won a bunch of categories since the Awards launched. At that inaugural event, they also played the role of house band, bringing together some of the city’s impressive talent for one huge jam. In 2016 the band was named Artist of the Year, accepting their award while on tour in Germany. In 2018 they also won Album of the Year for ‘On the Boundaries’. Their career has gone from strength-to-strength in the intervening years – a relentless touring schedule through the USA, Europe and Australia’s most-loved festivals has seen them garner a growing fanbase that’s truly global.


Lane-Harry has previously won Song of the Year for ‘Anarchy’ and Album of the Year for ‘Youth’ with long-time collaborator Ike Campbell. Their video for ‘The Dash’ also took out that category in 2018. Since that time, Lane has launched a new solo project, Saint Lane, which sees a move in an alterna-pop direction.

His 2019 accomplishments were rather impressive. He performed at BIGSOUND as well as Ultra Festival in South Korea, was profiled in GQ magazine and spent time in the studio with Kanye West’s producer Andrew Dawson and Kid Cudi producer Mike Malchicoff and recorded music with Baker Boy and B Wise. Amongst all of that activity Lane also found time to shoot a music video in LA directed by Anthony Sylvester.

San Mei

San Mei is another past winner taking huge strides to build an international audience. Winning both Song of the Year for ‘Wonder’ as well as Breakout Artist in 2019, San Mei has signed to etcetc, rolled out a national tour, performed at SXSW with her second appearance at the international music event this March plus Guardian Australia named her ‘one to watch’ and triple J named her ‘Artist of the Week’.

Other past winners include Hollow Coves, Baltimore Gun Club, Being Jane Lane, Jason McGregor, Tesla Coils, Leopold’s Treat, Black Swamp, Hanlon Brothers, YT Dingo and Mason Rack Band.

The 6th annual Gold Coast Music Awards, supported by City of Gold Coast takes place on Thursday 30 April, right on the beach in Surfers Paradise. A free concert featuring Tijuana Cartel, PACES and Felicity Lawless takes place from 6.00 – 10.00pm but the industry-focussed awards ceremony in a marquee adjacent to the stage is ticketed. Tickets are on sale now. Follow all the Gold Coast Music Awards news at fb.com/goldcoastmusicawards.

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