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Partnership sparks opportunity for diverse female artists and musicians

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For the second year running, Settlement Services International (SSI) is partnering with Australian Women in Music Awards (AWMA) to turn the spotlight on culturally diverse female artists and music practitioners through the SSI Diversity in Music Award.

In a groundbreaking initiative to promote diversity and equality in the Australian music industry, SSI and AWMA have joined forces to support six female artists from diverse backgrounds to attend the 2019 AMWA program between 8-9 October in Brisbane. The two-day program includes a series of forums, a keynote address, networking opportunities and the Awards ceremony, concert and party.

Armenian-Lebanese jazz composer and artist Zela Margossian was one of six female artists who had the opportunity to attend AWMA with SSI in 2018.

This year, Margossian will not only be attending the Awards ceremony but will also be taking centre stage and performing her composition piece on piano with Zoe Hauptmann (bass), Ali Foster (drums), and a member from her band, Zela Margossian Quintet, Stuart Vandegraaff (clarinet).

Margossian’s music has been described as “Armenian folk-jazz”, “ethno-jazz” or a “fusion of folk and jazz with traditional Armenian musical influences”. In November 2018, the quintet released its debut album, Transition, which was recently nominated for an ARIA Award in the Best World Music category.

Margossian has performed internationally with piano solo recitals in Beirut, Yerevan, New Jersey, Montreal and Sydney, including a performance with the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra. With her band, she has made appearances at festivals such as the International Women’s Jazz Festival 2017 and the Beirut International Jazz Festival 2018.

Margossian said she was honoured to perform at the Australian Women in Music Awards this year. “I’m so grateful to be part of such an important women’s music movement and to share the stage with so many of Australia’s finest female artists and musicians.”

AWMA, the brainchild of Founding Executive Director and Sydney-based music producer Vicki Gordon, has been established to recognise and acknowledge the value, achievements and contribution of women across all areas of the Australian music industry. AWMA is also committed to redressing the underrepresentation of women on the main stage, on radio, in festival line-ups, as award recipients and in the boardrooms of the Australian peak music industry bodies.

Gordon said, “AWMA’s vision is to lead with generosity, to insist that our society benefits when musicians and those who work with them are empowered from a diversity of places, cultures and identities.”

SSI Arts & Culture Program Manager Carolina Triana said that the unique partnership between AWMA and SSI created a platform where culturally diverse female artists could become recognised for their talents and contributions to the Australian music industry.

“Through joint commitment and collaboration the opportunity provided by AWMA to cast the spotlight on women of all backgrounds, is unprecedented,” Triana said. “It’s inspiring to see talented women like Zela have the opportunity to reach new and mainstream audiences while maintaining their unique cultural heritage.”

AWMA recognises the contribution and value of First Nations and multicultural performers by acknowledging excellence in artistry and musicianship, technical and production skills, cross-cultural development, songwriting, humanitarian work, classical music, music journalism, music photography, filmmaking, management, leadership and more.

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