National Songwriting Award winner

BY IMELDA COONEY

Francesca de Valance

 

Wests Ashfield, in Sydney’s inner west, is a vast modern club supporting Wests Tigers rugby league team. On Wednesday 4 December, a room at Wests was transformed into a Gothic-style nightclub where bronzed candelabras topped black-clothed tables.

 

 

More than 400 people gathered for the 33rd National Songwriting Awards 2013 and the NFSA’s Oral History Archivist, Bronwyn Murphy, presented the NFSA-sponsored ‘Open Category’ award for a song written in the last year.

Our winner was Brisbane singer-songwriter Francesca de Valence with her moving and evocative composition,‘Beautiful Night’.

The jazz piano and voice graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music has made a name for herself around the world with her recordings and live performances – find out more about her at her official website.

Colin Burgess receives the award on behalf of Francesca de Valence, from the NFSA’s Bronwyn Murphy.

Since Francesca was in Hobart, her award was accepted by Colin Burgess, whose brother Denny is the chairman of the Australian Songwriters Association (ASA). Both Burgess brothers were once members of legendary 1960s band The Masters Apprentices, and Colin was one of the original members of AC/DC.

Another highlight of the ceremony was the induction of Garth Porter, the Sherbet keyboardist and writer of over 800 songs, into the Australian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Following an introduction by pop historian Glenn A Baker, Porter performed Sherbet’s monster hit ‘Howzat’, which sounded no different to if you’d been there in 1976. The performance showed off the harmonies that helped the group achieve its incredible success – 20 consecutive hit singles, 17 albums, 10 platinum and 40 gold disc awards.

The evening hummed along with nominees appearing on stage to a buzz of laughter and background conversation. But the audience was still and attentive when Patricia ‘Little Pattie’ Amphlett delivered a heartfelt tribute to her cousin Chrissy Amphlett, lead singer of The Divinyls and one of Australian music’s most unique performers. Many in the audience would share her grief, she said, since Chrissy was someone who truly loved her fellow musicians.

The surprise hit of the night was the host, ABC weatherman Mike Bailey, who guided the audience through speeches, live music, auctions and raffles.

The NFSA is proud to have played a part in this celebration of those extraordinary individuals who drive Australia’s music industry whilst ceding the lion’s share of the fame and glory to the artists who sing their songs. Their work colours our memories and forms an enduring part of our cultural history.