Presenting our 2021 FBi SMAC Award Winners!
January 19th 2022
The 2021 FBi SMAC Awards proved once again that COVID-19 is no match for Sydney’s creative communities. It can’t break their stride, dim their light, or get in the way of celebrating their hard work via a special (covid-safe) awards ceremony.
The winners (below) were announced during a live broadcast on 94.5FM last night. What the ceremony lacked in the usual glitz and glamour we’ve come to expect from Sydney’s biggest event, it made up for in the for in excitement, laughs, and of course, a whole lotta love.
Hosted by FBi Radio broadcasters Adele Luamanuvae and Mia Hull, the awards were dotted with phone calls to each winner. Some acceptance speeches made us laugh, some made us cry, and all of them illuminated the incredible effort each winner poured into their craft in 2021. Taking out a SMAC Award is a huge get any year – factor in the relentless curveballs 2021 threw, and you’ve got yourself a list of super talented, super resilient winners. You can listen back to the full ceremony up top.
And we’re beyond thrilled to announce that the winner of the 2021 SMAC of the Year is Amani Haydar. Amani is a lawyer, artist, advocate, mum and author of The Mother Wound. In a long overdue conversation about the insidious nature of violence against women (in many forms at many levels), Amani’s resilience and strength shine. She sat down on Out of the Box to tell her story last year – you can listen back here. Our Managing Director Tanya Ali had more to say on Amani below.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
NGAIIRE – 3
Ngaiire’s third album sees her grapple with new motherhood, her identity as a woman of colour from post-colonial PNG, navigating a whitewashed Australian music industry and exploring a bolder level of creative freedom than she has before. Co-written and produced by Paris-based, Sydney transplant Jack Grace, ‘3’ is deftly layered with entrancing gospel harmonies, decorated with soft electronic overtones and a percussive heartbeat that lays the groundwork for NGAIIRE’s most impressive work yet.
SONG OF THE YEAR – PRESENTED BY FIREBALL CINNAMON WHISKY
BARKAA – King Brown
Malyangapa and Barkindji rapper BARKAA draws on self-love and shitty exes in her release, ‘King Brown’. With wit and sass at the forefront of the bossa nova-sparkled beat, the lyrics are a clear reminder to anyone going through it that putting your middle finger up at those who have hurt you may just do the trick. As a revenge track, ‘King Brown’ throws fuel into the fire, and we are absolutely loving the heat.
NEXT BIG THING – PRESENTED BY RED BULL
Mi-kaisha is an musician nurtured by the local scene. With a childhood spent listening to her father’s hip-hop show on Koori Radio and soulful 90s tunes, Mi-kaisha was destined to be an artist. Her 2021 single ‘Brand New’ is her first original release in two years. On it, she combines gospel, hip hop, and R&B elements, creating a cohesive track that represents the artist she is growing into. Hard-hitting lyricism paired with blissful instrumentation has seen her music draw attention to politics and the hardships associated with being an Aboriginal and Tongan woman in this country – but also, above all, the power in that.
BEST VIDEO – PRESENTED BY ALIZÉ
NGAIIRE – Closer
NGAIIRE‘s ‘Closer’ (dir. Adam Kiers) opens with a slow, intimate backlit shot of masked figures mirroring and intertwining hands before embracing. Strings give way to a warm, synth-led beat accompanying a troupe of matted, masked dancers moving angularly above ocean cliffs. The world of ‘Closer’ is both alien and familiar, gaudy and sincere. There’s an intense intimacy to the video, and to NGAIIRE’s vocals and lyrics – she repeats “don’t come here unless you love me like I do” as the dancers passionately embrace. ‘Closer’ is taken from NGAIIRE’s third album ‘3’, which was nominated for Best Soul/R&B Release and Breakthrough Artist – Release at the 2021 ARIA Music Awards. It also earned her a nomination for Best Artist.
BEST LIVE ACT – PRESENTED BY YOUNG HENRYS
Sydney artist and multi-instrumentalist Milan Ring blends notes of soul production with sleek guitar licks and breathtaking vocals. She’s quickly becoming a collaborator and producer to behold, refreshing the sound of the local R&B scene with tastes of percussive fusion – her latest singles bring on the talents of artists including BLESSED and Che Lingo. Since supporting Sampa the Great at The Lair in 2018, she’s gone on to perform at the Sydney Opera House as a part of Barrabuwari and played her first headline show at Oxford Art Factory in June 2021. Milan Ring will kick off her debut album ‘I’m Feeling Hopeful’ tour in April.
Serwah Attafuah is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist and musician from Sydney’s west. Her incredibly distinctive style combines Afrofuturism and renaissance art to create surreal cyber dreamscapes, heavenly wastelands, and vibrant neons. In 2021, Serwah’s practice gained global recognition through her use of NFTs – most notably at Sotheby’s Natively Digital curated NFT sale in June. She’s one of the first local artists to adopt this medium. 2021 also saw Serwah collaborate with FBi favourites such as Genesis Owusu and Amyl and the Sniffers – bringing their creative visions to life in the digital 3D realm.
BEST ARTS PROGRAM
seven methods of killing kylie jenner
Hilarious, thought-provoking, and helmed by an incredible team of women of colour, seven methods of killing kylie jenner was never going to be your average white-bread theatre moment. A core value of community engagement guided everything about this sell-out season – from Vyb Nyts reimagining what a night at the theatre can be, to a rehearsal observer program, to an insightful and uncompromising series of online talks. Darlinghurst Theatre Company and Green Door Theatre Company’s of production seven methods of killing kylie jenner has not shown us a new way of approaching theatre, but has made it clear that some of the archaic conventions and flow-on effects of these are simply not acceptable anymore.
Baba’s Place is lovingly named after Alexander Kelly’s Macedonian grandmother. The restaurant is a melting pot of all the flavours migrant communities have brought to Sydney – drawing on co-owners Jean-Paul El Tom and James Bellos‘ respective Lebanese and Greek heritage as well as eats from across the city. It’s the Eastern European rakija (or ‘rocket fuel’) you might find in suburban homes across South-western Sydney; the hand-pulled noodles made to order in their favourite Chinese joints in Burwood and Hurstville; the avjar served at soccer practice; and their love of iconic joint El Jannah – all of these play a role in Baba’s Place’s multicultural, border-mixing ode to migrant Sydney.
SMAC OF THE YEAR
Introducing Amani at the SMAC Awards broadcast, FBi Radio’s Managing Director Tanya Ali said:
“At this point, calling 2021 a strange year feels like a cliche – yet – it is easy to see it as a blur, in many ways indistinguishable from that fateful first year of the pandemic.
But if you think back to the beginning of last year, you may remember that a conversation about gendered violence and injustice took place in a way it really hadn’t, before, in this country – sparked by a number of women holding those abusing their power to account.
An exhausted fury seeped through us as a collective. Sitting around dinner tables, and over phone calls on our mandated daily walks, we asked each other – in 2021, how can we still be here?
The 2021 SMAC of the Year recipient has known this feeling of exhausted fury for years.
Some years ago now, she lost her mother to a brutal act of domestic violence, perpetrated by her father. In the time since that unimaginable loss, she has used art, in different forms, to process, to heal and to advocate.
Growing up in backyards in Arncliffe and Bexley, and now based in Chester Hill, Western Sydney is embedded in this recipient’s art, in her very being. Her tireless work as a board member of the Bankstown Women’s Health Centre sees her advocate for women’s health and safety on a local scale. Zooming out, in September last year her advocacy had nation-wide impacts, when an Amendment to the Paid Parental Leave Act, that she had been rallying for since 2018, became law.
Of course, 2021 saw a hard lockdown affect the Western Sydney region more severely than any other part of Sydney. In that very lockdown, tonight’s recipient published a memoir she wrote the majority of in the previous lockdown, sifting through difficult memories and transcripts from her father’s trial.
This memoir, longlisted for the 2021 Walkley Book Award, presents such a sharp account of one family’s experience of domestic violence. It stands testament to the power of a specific story, and the resonance such a story can have. It has started a long overdue conversation about so many complexities that are often missed from conversations about this type of violence – from familial and cultural context, to emotional abuse and coercive control, to intergenerational trauma, to injustice in the justice system when addressing these matters.
Despite the heaviness of this story, and the anger that in some ways, fuels the work of tonight’s recipient – the power of matriarchy and female resilience shine through everything she does strongest of all.
I am honoured to announce that the 2021 SMAC of the Year goes to lawyer, artist, advocate, mum and author of The Mother Wound – Amani Haydar.”