King Stingray are crowned winners of the 2023 Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition with “Milkumana.”
Co-written by the Stingers’ Roy Kellaway and Yirrŋa Gotjiringu Yunupingu, “Milkumana” scores the $50,000 cash prize, courtesy of APRA AMCOS, Alberts and Sony Music Publishing.
It’s said to be the largest first-place cash prize for any songwriting competition in the world.
The Yolŋu surf rockers have been hanging ten with Australian music community’s most coveted awards.
“Milkumana” scooped best song at the 2022 National Indigenous Music Awards, came in at No. 56 in the triple j Hottest 100, was shortlisted for APRA song of the year 2022, and was nominated for most performed rock work of the year at this year’s APRA Music Awards.
Their collection of trophies includes the 18th annual Australian Music Prize, presented earlier this year for the indie act’s self-titled debut LP; the Michael Gudinski breakthrough artist award, presented at the 2022 ARIA Awards; and best new artist at the 2022 Rolling Stone Australia Awards.
The band had the honour of closing out the 2023 APRAs for a performance of Men at Work’s “Down Under,” with Ted Albert award-winner Colin Hay joining in on vocals.
“We can’t believe it, we are so over the moon to win the Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition,” comments Kellaway.
“It means so much to us, we really do believe what we are singing about and our songs tell a story and a message. We feel really lucky that we can share stories.”
Adds Dean Ormston, CEO of APRA AMCOS: “Hearty congratulations to King Stingray – Roy and Yirrŋa – on your collaboration that is travelling from the top end to all corners of the globe.” The comp, he adds, is so special because it honours the craft of songwriting and gives anyone who enters the chance to be heard and win. Thank you to all entrants for making a difference.”
Second place in the contest, and the $10,000 prize, goes to “Ready for the Sky” by Budjerah, co-written by Budjerah and Ainslie Wills, while the Stingers appear a second time on the podium, clinching third place (and an additional $5,000) for “Camp Dog,” written by Kellaway.
Also announced Thursday (June 8) was the AMPAL emerging songwriter prize, with $5,000 going the way of “Worst Taste In Girls” by Charley, co-written by Charley, Antonio Egizii and David Musumeci.
The American Songwriter Spotlight Award was presented for the first time, with Los Angeles hip-hop artist and songwriter Tia P. earning the $1,500 cash prize and a forthcoming feature on the American Songwriter for her song “That Action.”
According to organisers, this year’s competition received 2,950 entries from 45 countries.
Each entry carries a $50 fee, raising $147,500 with 100% going to support the services of Noro Music Therapy.
Since its launch in 2009, the competition has raised nearly $1.75 million to Noro.
The 2023 judging panel featured artists, producers, media and music industry professionals including reps from The Brag Media, Double J, Jaxsta, Billboard, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Universal Music Australia, EMI Music Australia, American Songwriter and more.
Named after the legendary songwriters and founding members of The Easybeats, Harry Vanda and the late George Young, the competition has honoured a range of songwriting talent, from Thelma Plum (2020), Matt Corby and Dann Hume (2019), Amy Shark (2018), Gretta Ray (2016), Husky Gawenda (2014), Isabella Manfredi (2013), Kimbra (2011) and Megan Washington (2009), and others.