APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) is proud to announce the winners of its bi-annual PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AWARDS (PDAs).  Eight Australian songwriters and composers, including four from NSW, will get a massive leg-up as they each receive career-boosting prizes worth over $25,000.

From a talented pool of more than 2500 music artists, the list of submissions was whittled down to a group of 250 songwriters and composers. This group of finalists has now been narrowed down to just eight (8) and it is our pleasure to introduce to you the winners of the 2011 APRA PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AWARDS.


Originally from Townsville ROHIN JONES is a founding member of The Middle East and one of two primary songwriters (alongside band mate Jordan Ireland). Rohin also performs in Joseph Liddy and The Skeleton Horse and is involved in various recording projects in Townsville.

Sydney songwriter CATHERINE KELLEHER writes and performs music as Catcall. With an original style featuring beats and quirky melodies, Catherine created Catcall as a project in 2007 where she could develop her penchant for pop within the realms of beats and synthesizers. With an aim to produce interesting and fresh pop music, injected with honesty and passion Catcall is an artist that continues to grow and develop.

Rounding out the POPULAR CONTEMPORARY category is ZOE RANDELL, one half of duo Luluc.  With the release of their debut album, Dear Hamlyn, Luluc has become a quiet sensation. With songs pared down to an essential core, the music of Zoë Randell and Steve Hassett is of austere and unadorned beauty. Relocating from Melbourne, Australia, to Brooklyn in 2010, coincided with wide exposure for Luluc, with two songs, “I Found You” and ”One Day Soon” featured in ABC TV series Grey’s Anatomy.

The recipient of APRA PDA in the CLASSICAL category is Sydney composer ALEX POZNIAK.  With a Masters in Musical Composition from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music among his academic distinctions, in 2009 Alex was named composer-in-residence for the 2009 Verge Arts Festival at the University of Sydney. In 2010 Alex had three works performed in the ISCM World New Music Days in Sydney as well as performances at the Beijing Modern Music Festival, Adelaide Soundstream Festival and Sydney Fringe Festival. Alex is Artistic Director of chronology arts, voted one of the Top 100 Creative Catalysts in 2009 in the Creative Sydney arm of the inaugural Vivid Sydney Festival.

Taking out the APRA PDA in the INDIGENOUS category is Wagga Wagga singer / songwriter BRENDON BONEY. Brendon is one half of the Australian duo Microwave Jenny who met a year out of high school. Their silky smooth harmonies have been wooing music lovers across the country and the genre-blending duo is now a strong contributor to Australian Festival circuit. Drawing influence from artists and storytellers such as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison they aim to promote good vibes, positive spirited music with honest and sincere lyrics.

Melbourne composer TIMOTHY STEVENS is the recipient of the APRA PDA in the JAZZ category. Born in Swan Hill, Victoria he moved with his family to Melbourne as a child. Growing up in the Anglican Church, he was exposed to organ and choral music from very early on and began piano lessons at the age of eight. He studied for the Doctorate of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 2000 having completed a thesis on Melbourne’s Red Onion Jazz Band. He performed as a member of the trio Browne – Haywood – Stevens in the late 1990s, and subsequently has led his own trio, which features his original compositions and pursues spontaneous (‘free’) improvisation.

Star on the rise HARMONY JAMES has won the APRA PDA in the COUNTRY category. In early 2007 Harmony’s song “Tailwind” was announced the first Australian song to win the country category of the International Songwriting Competition. The 2nd single and number 1 hit “Somebody Stole My Horse”, was Australia’s third most played country song of 2008 and with the 2009 release of her debut album, Tailwind, Harmony confirmed that she is a talented and skilled singer songwriter. In 2009 she was awarded Independent Female Vocalist of the Year at the Southern Stars awards. Now featuring again with “Precious Little” the second biggest song of 2009 at country radio, Harmony has found herself right up with the best of the business as finalist for the 2010 CMAA Album of the Year and Female Artist of the Year.

Sydney composer CAITLIN YEO has received the APRA PDA in the FILM & TELEVISION category. Since graduating from a Graduate Diploma of Screen Composition at AFTRS in 2003, Caitlin has scored 4 feature films, including All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane and the recently released Jucy, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival to sell-out audiences. She has also scored 18 TV documentaries and many short films. In 2007, Caitlin won an APRA-AGSC Screen Music Award (Best Music for a Documentary) for her highly original score for Bomb Harvest. With a diverse musical background Caitlin is an accomplished accordionist, flautist and pianist. Currently she is working on 2 feature documentaries, and has just completed another documentary series.

Each APRA PDA winner will receive prizes that will substantially support their burgeoning careers as songwriters and composers.

There is $12,000 cash and Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch + Logic Studio courtesy of APRA|AMCOS, a full day of studio time, including engineer, at Studios 301, a distribution deal with MGM/Leading Edge (Popular Contemporary, Country, Film & TV, Indigenous winners only), a digital distribution courtesy of MGM (Popular Contemporary, Country, Film & TV, Indigenous winners only), a digital distribution courtesy ABC Music (Jazz and Classical Award winners only), a PCR300 Controller Keyboard and DR80C Condensor Microphone courtesy of Roland, a unit of study in the Australian Institute of Music’s (AIM) Bachelor of Music Program, attendance at the ASCAP US Film & TV Workshop (for Film & TV winner only) courtesy of ASCAP and Seed Workshop (for 3 x popular contemporary winners only) courtesy of The Seed – an arts grant fund.

APRA CEO Brett Cottle said, “The staggering aspect of this year’s PDAs is that 2500 Australasian writers entered – an increase of 330% over the 2009 figures. This figure can of course be interpreted in a number of ways – not least that times are tough and opportunities increasingly limited for songwriters and composers. On the more positive side, the level of commitment to their craft from creative musical talent in this country has never been more in evidence.”

Also presented today are the recipients of two special prizes. The first is the Jessica Michalik Contemporary Music Endowment, which was established in 2001 by the producers of the Big Day Out. The endowment is given in memory of Jessica Michalik, who was a passionate music fan and aspired to work in the music industry. The endowment, which provides a promising Australian songwriter or group with a development grant of $10,000 this year goes to NATALIE PA’APA’A singer of Blue King Brown. As one of two founding and songwriting members of the band, Natalie Pa’apa’a is the bands multi talented front person. Her growing legion of fans extends to Spearhead’s Michael Franti who said,  “Natalie is a bright light in the world with a vision that extends beyond the stage and together with the rest of the band raise the roof off every show they play. I love em!!!”

Also presented today is the recipient of the UTAS Stephen Schwartz Songwriting Award, which is presented by The University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music in association with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). This prestigious Award valued at $10,000 is offered to advance the career of an emerging individual songwriter or song writing team in the genre of musical theatre. The 2011 recipient is composer/lyricist MATTHEW ROBINSON who is also the youngest ever recipient of Australia’s richest theatre-writing award, the Pratt Prize for Music Theatre. His winning musical, Metro Street, has since been nominated for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, five Helpmann Awards and won the South Australian ATG Award for Best Musical.  With performing credits which include The Pirates of Penzance, Henrik Egerman in A Little Night Music and Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady, Matthew’s current writing project is a State Theatre Company of South Australia commission entitled Happy People.

Meanwhile across the Tasman, our APRA NZ friends recently announced the recipients of their PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AWARDS. The 2011 recipients are STEPHEN GALLAGHER in the Film & TV category, MIRIAM CLANCY in the Pop/Contemporary category, and SIMON EASTWOOD in the Classical category. For detailed bios of the APRA NZ PDA winners, click here to go to the APRA|AMCOS NZ website.

APRA sincerely thanks the 29 partner organisations who worked tirelessly to review the 100s of entries they received, to select their top 5 for each category; and the 38 judges (professional songwriters and music industry professionals) who gave up their time to listen to, and make judgements about the musical pieces entered. APRA, its partner organisations and judges, proudly congratulate all the winners of the 2011 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AWARDS.