AMP winner Sampa The Great creates history

Two years after winning the prestigious Australian Music Prize, Sampa The Great today became the first musician to twice claim the $30,000 album prize, having been named the 2019 winner for The Return.

After her first win with 2017's breakthrough success Birds and the BEE9, Zambian-born Sampa Tembo, whose stage and recording name is Sampa The Great, was again shortlisted against eight others for 2019's AMP.

Sampa The Great becomes the first musician to win the Australian Music Prize twice.Credit:

In rehearsals ahead of her performance at Golden Plains in Meredith, Victoria, on Sunday, Sampa The Great said she was "in shock" after hearing about her second AMP win. "You find your name shortlisted and you don’t expect anything … I was wondering who would win, there was so much good music," she said. "I just said to the guys in rehearsal this (winning) has happened again, it’s amazing."

The Return, she said, was an important album for her, not only in her musical development but in speaking about where she is in her life.

"It took a lot to even get into creating the record, there was so much pressure even from myself. Once I got rid of the pressure the music and the stories started seeping out, about where I am in my life and what I wanted to tell.

"For me, I knew this was my truth, my story, I said what I needed to say and I’m at peace with that … you get to a point of acceptance (making an album) and then you’re ready to release."

The 27-year-old, who was raised in Botswana before settling in Melbourne, now travels extensively with a burgeoning music career, taking her soulful R&B and jazz infused hip-hop to an ever-widening circle of fans.

The 2019 AMP shortlist – narrowed down from a list of 107 nominees – included Ainslie Wills for her album All You Have Is All You Need, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for Ghosteen, Amyl and the Sniffers' self-titled album, Julia Jacklin for Crushing and Thelma Plum's debut album Better in Blak.

Last year Sampa The Great collected the ARIA award for best hip-hop release with her song Final Form, from The Return, edging out a celebrated collection of Australian artists including Baker Boy and Hilltop Hoods. She also took home the best hip-hop act at last year's Music Victoria awards.

Other winners of the AMP throughout its 15-year history include last year's posthumous winner Gurrumul, A.B. Original, Courtney Barnett, Hermitude, Augie March and inaugural winners the Drones in 2005.

Upon winning her second AMP, Sampa The Great said the past two years have been an enormous period of growth for her personally and musically.

"I really learnt a lot about myself," she said. "Being on the road, touring … there's been a lot of confirmation that people from all walks of life are receiving and being inspired by the music [and] that just strengthens you as an artist.

"I feel like what I’m doing is connecting; I want to write more, express myself more, it makes you grow as an artist."

2019 Australian Music Prize's full list of nominees:

  • Ainslie Wills – All You Have Is All You Need
  • Amyl & The Sniffers – Amyl & The Sniffers
  • Dispossessed – Warpath Never Ended
  • Julia Jacklin – Crushing
  • Methyl Ethel – Triage
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
  • Sampa The Great – The Return (winner)
  • Sleep D – Rebel Force
  • Thelma Plum – Better In Blak

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