Women songwriters have done well at the APRA Silver Scrolls in recent years, but taken over the full 55-year history of the award, the record is not so great: only twelve have won the top prize. William Dart ponders the possibility of another woman winner this year.
Lea Maalfrid’s 'Lavender Mountain' made history in 1977 – the first song written by a woman to take top prize in what was the 13th year of APRA’s coveted award but her success didn’t immediately redress the gender balance as some may have hoped.
Two years after this, Sharon O’Neill took home a Scroll for her song 'Face in a Rainbow' but another nine years would pass before Shona Laing’s 'Soviet Snow' came out on top.
Of the 54 winning songs so far, 1965-2019, a meagre 12 have come from women’s pens - either solo or in a songwriting team. (Laing and Ella Yelich-O'Connor have both won twice).
William Dart considers the women songwriters in the 2020 shortlist of 20 and listens to the songs of Annabel Alpers (Hamerkop), Ria Hall, Reb Fountain, Nadia Reid, Stephanie Brown (Lips), Bic Runga and Cass Mitchell (King Sweeties), and Tami Neilson.
'Song title' (Composer) – Performers
'Lavender Mountain' (Maalfrid) – Lea Maalfrid
Kiwi Gold Disc 3 1975-1980
(NZ on Air)
'The Barrel' (Harding) – Aldous Harding
'Happy Unhappy' (Stokes) – Bella Kalolo
live recording at 2019 Silver Scrolls
'The Sacred' (Cole) – Lydia Cole
RNZ studio session
'Remote' (Alpers) – Hamerkop
'Walk' (Hall) – Ria Hall
'Don’t You Know Who I Am' (Fountain) – Reb Fountain
'Get the Devil Out' (Reid) – Nadia Reid
Out of My Province
'Guilty Talk' (Brown, Ikner) – Lips
'Let’s Just Stay in Bed' (Mitchell, Runga) – King Sweeties
'Hate I Don’t Love You' (Hopetoun Brown) – Hopetoun Brown ft. Tami Neilson
'Be Still My Soul' (Sibelius) – Tami Neilson, Don McGlashan
'Ten Tonne Truck' (Neilson) – Tami Neilson
'You Were Mine' (Neilson) – Tami Neilson