18 Nov 2016

Artist refuses 'brown' award: 'I need to speak my mind'

11:03 am on 18 November 2016

Aaradhna has refused an award at last night's Vodafone Music Awards because of its racial implications.

Aaradhna performing live in the RNZ Auckland studios for NZ Live. 30 September 2016.

Aaradhna did not accept her award for Best Urban/Hip Hop Album, because of its racial implications. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Aaradhna picked up the award for Best Female Solo artist earlier in the night, but it was her speech after winning Best Urban/Hip Hop album that was one of the memorable moments of the evening.

The Porirua-born daughter of a Samoan mother and Indian father, she said she felt lumped into the "urban" category.

She said her album, Brown Girl, was about her experiences with racism and being placed in a box.

"If I were to accept this as an artist, it wouldn't be fair because I am a singer, not a rapper.

"I feel like I've been placed in a category of brown artists," she said, before giving the award to fellow nominees SWIDT.

She told RNZ she had been considering the refusal for some time.

"I was just thinking, okay, if I do win something, I need to speak my mind and let it all out and I did.

"I didn't want want to come off as ungrateful to win the award or, doing something like that. I'm very grateful to win an award. It's an awesome win, but of course there's a more important message and I had to say it. I had to let it out."

She said Brown Girl was inspired by something that happened at a previous award ceremony.

"There was this guy and my friend heard him shout so many racist things and that's what pushed me to write this song. It was about time for me, because I have always dealt with those moments ever since I was young and it's about being put in a box. And it's me taking pride in my culture. It had to be done. I've got to speak my piece.

Aaradhna praised SWIDT

Their producer is just so talented. Even overseas, rap artists have taken notice of his work. His work on SWIDT Vs Everybody, I feel like they've got something going, and if they really keep up with it they are going to be a solid group that really stick around."

Big haul of awards for Broods

Nelson duo Broods won five Tui awards, beating their haul last year by one.

The electro-pop siblings, Georgia and Caleb Nott, won the Tuis for Best Group, Best Pop Album, People's Choice and the coveted awards for Album of the Year and Single of the Year.


Broods won single of the year for their song, Free. Photo: RNZ

They were unable to attend the ceremony because of prior commitments.

Produced and engineered by Grammy-winning Joel Little, Broods' second album Conscious debuted at number one on the charts and features collaborations with Tove Lo and Lorde.

Little won Best Engineer and Best producer for his work on Conscious at last month's New Zealand artisan awards.

Highest Selling Single and the Radio Airplay Record of the Year went to Six60's for their song 'White Lines'.

Operatic group Sol3 Mio won the Tui for Highest Selling Album for the third year in a row, this time winning it for their second album On Another Note.

KINGS won Breakthrough Artist of the Year for his song 'Don't Worry Bout It', which sat atop the singles chart for seven weeks straight.

Other winners include MAALA, who won Best Male Solo Artist for his song 'Composure'; Lawrence Arabia, who won Best Alternative Album for Absolute Truth and Villainy, who took home the Tui for Best Rock Album for Dead Sight. Best Electronic Album was won by Pacific Heights.

International Achievement, won in previous years by Broods and Lorde, this year went to Fat Freddy's Drop, who released their fourth studio album last year.

Rounding off the evening was a performance of Bic Runga's Sway, in honour of her Legacy Award win.

Full list of winners

  • - Godfrey Hirst Album of the Year: Broods - 'Conscious'
  • Vodafone Single of the Year: Broods - 'Free'
  • Best Group: Broods - 'Conscious'
  • Best Male Solo Artist: MAALA - 'Composure'
  • Fiji Airways Best Female Solo Artist: Aaradhna - 'Brown Girl'
  • Breakthrough Artist of the Year: KINGS - 'Don't Worry Bout' It'
  • Best Rock Album: Villainy - 'Dead Sight'
  • The Edge Best Pop Album: Broods - 'Conscious'
  • Best Alternative Album: Lawrence Arabia - 'Absolute Truth'
  • Best Urban/Hip Hop Album: SWIDT 'SmokeyGotBeatz Presents SWIDT vs EVERYBODY' (Aaradhna did not accept it)
  • Best Roots Album: Winner: Unity Pacific - 'Blackbirder Dread'
  • Best Electronic Album: Pacific Heights - 'The Stillness'
  • Te Mangai Paho Best Maori Album: Rob Ruha - 'Pūmau'
  • Best Worship Album: Edge Kingsland - 'Edge Vol. 3: The Common Good'
  • Best Classical Album: Anthony Ritchie and Ross Harris - 'Fjarran'
  • Vodafone People's Choice Award: Broods
  • NZ Herald Legacy Award: Bic Runga
  • Vodafone Highest Selling Single: Six60 - 'White Lines'
  • Highest Selling Album: Sol3Mio - 'On Another Note'
  • NZ On Air Radio Airplay Record of the Year: Six60 - 'White Lines'
  • International Achievement: Fat Freddy's Drop

Artisan Awards

  • NZ On Air Best Music Video: Chris Lane - 'Inside Out' (Avalanche City)
  • Best Album Cover: Anns Taylor - 'Absolute Truth' (Lawrence Arabia)
  • Massey University Best Producer: Joel Little - 'Conscious' (Broods)
  • Best Engineer: Joel Little - 'Conscious' (Broods)
  • NZ On Air Critics' Choice Prize: Scuba Diva

Additional Tuis presented in 2016

  • Best Pacific Album: Te Vaka - 'Amataga'
  • Best Country Album: The Warratahs - 'Runaway Days'
  • Best Folk Album: Holly Arrowsmith - 'For The Weary Traveller'
  • Best Jazz Album: Phil Broadhurst - 'Panacea'
  • Best Children's Album: Itty Bitty Beats - 'Lay Your Head Down'

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs