2016 AU Awards: A look at the nominees for ‘Female Artist of the Year’

Yesterday, we brought you an extra little look at the AU Award nominees for Male Artist of the Year – a reflective on how those six artists have flown on our radar through the year and why they’ve been nominated. Today, the focus turns to the ladies as we take a peek at the 2016’s of some incredible Australian songwriters and performers.



What else is there to say about the year Ngaiire Joseph has had? The girl has always been a star, but 2016 has been the year that more people finally clicked. Her album Blastoma showed us Ngaiire’s versatility as a vocalist and a songwriter while introducing her to whole new demographic of fans.

The live shows have also reflect this, with highly successful headline shows and acclaimed festival spots throughout 2016 firmly stamping a spot for Ngaiire in the Australian industry as one of our finest.



Melbourne’s Olivia Bartley didn’t necessarily come out nowhere with 2016’s Self Talk, but the synth-pop artist has certainly made a mark for herself since. Cutting a strong figure on stages around the country this year, Olympia matches her electric on stage style and presence with some chaotic moments of musical fury.

Headline tours of her own, not to mention successful shows alongside fellow AU Award nominee Paul Dempsey and well-received festival showcases this year has positioned Olympia to be entering 2017 all guns blazing and we can’t wait to see how it pans out.



We’ve been rocking with Jess Cerro for a few years now and obviously, the now-ARIA Award winner has been reaping in the love and acclaim from all corners of the Aussie industry right throughout this year. While her music has always been indicative of an unique and captivating young artist, Montaigne has properly stepped into the spotlight and has exerted nothing less than sheer confidence since.

Vocally, Montaigne is a killer – we all know this much – and as a songwriter, she’s strengthened and continued to explore new ways of channeling the intensely personal, the revealing and the pure entertainment sides of artistry.



The Sydney-based lyricist and performer has charmed, challenged and endeared crowds through this year and what’s more, is that there’s that bubbling sense of excitement surrounding Sampa – we’re definitely at the start of something huge. Her shows have been near on flawless and that gorgeous confidence that comes through as she spits fire and entices the listener/live crowd to groove and chant along with songs like, “F E M A L E”, “Blue Boss” and “24” is just undeniable.

A driving force when it comes to young musicians in the industry pushing for a more diverse and musically experimental terrain, Sampa The Great is more than her name suggests. She’s lit a fire underneath the conservative and the complacent; a spark that is only generating more heat.



The clouds of mystery initially surrounding Ecca Vandal off the back of “White Flag” dropping mid-2014 established the Melbourne artist as somewhat of an elusive figure. The musical and artistic tidbits we were fed before “Battle Royal” followed in in 2015 were quick to hook us in and the wait was well worth it once Ecca came crashing through with a fiery live show and vibrant attitude to match. Combining that grit and teeth-baring grin swagger that brought the likes of M.I.A and Gwen Stefani to prominence, with the aggression of 90’s punk icons, Ecca Vandal was something else entirely when we first began seeing her reputation as a live artist take off.

Which brings me to Ecca in 2016. Currently on the road with DZ Deathrays – a link up we caught a hint of at BIGSOUND, Ecca is striding toward the New Year with vigour. Continuously flirting with genres and sidestepping labels like a boxer quick on her feet, Ecca’s sound remains hard to box up and categorise. That’s how we like it.



Like the other artists in this category, Melbourne’s Alex Lahey has been in music for a lot longer than her 2016 successes would indicate. A firm favourite on the local scene before 2015’s “Air Mail” and then of course, “You Don’t Think People Like You Like Me” and “Let’s Go Out” this year, Lahey has shot onto the radars of many at home and abroad.

Emerging out from the shadows of early Courtney Barnett comparisons, Lahey has struck her own chord with audiences around the country and the response has been immense. Landing an US deal with APA just after she signed with Native Tongue Publishing in Oz, Lahey is currently ahead to UK/Europe tour dates with Tegan and Sara, not to mention her American debut at SXSW in 2017.

The winners of the third annual AU Awards will be announced on Friday, December 16th. Keep your eyes peeled to the AU and our social media channels to find out the results! To catch up on the nominees, head here!


This content has recently been ported from its original home on The AU Review: Music and may have formatting errors – images may not be showing up, or duplicated, and galleries may not be working. We are slowly fixing these issue. If you spot any major malfunctions making it impossible to read the content, however, please let us know at editor AT theaureview.com.