Colin Hay & Sia, by Nick Demarais

SIA made a surprise appearance at the inaugural Global APRA Music Awards last week, to present an award to Men at Work’s Colin Hay. The elusive singer of “Chandelier” and “Titanium” known for obscuring her face with elaborate headgear or wigs, appeared without any artifice. In a flowing white gown and her hair up, she was relaxed and cheerful as she referred to Hay as her ‘Uncle Collie,’ and retold a story of how she was inspired to follow in his footsteps after watching him win a Grammy, while waiting for him in the back of his limousine. 

‘That’s not a bad life,’ she recounted to laughter from the audience at the Clive Davis Theater, ‘I might do that too.’ A longtime LA resident, Hay was then presented with the “Distinguished Services Award” for more than 40 years as a singer and songwriter, with his band Men At Work and later as a solo artist. Hay performed at the Beachlife Festival last year and is currently on the road for a three-month US headline tour. Sia’s father was a former bandmate and a close family friend of Hay’s. 

The APRA Awards was an opportunity to honor Australian and New Zealed songwriters or members in LA; who have been working behind the scenes with top charting artists. The “Overseas Recognition Award” was given to Joel Little, who produced Lorde’s breakout debut Pure Heroine and continues to produce with diverse acts from Broods, to Khalid and Taylor Swift.  

John Legend, Jonas Brothers and Khalid-collaborator, Sarah Aarons was presented with the “APRA Songwriter Of The Year.” The shy but unstoppable songwriter’s latest release is on the Justin Timberlake and SZA collaboration “The Other Side.” Her previous megahits include Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey’s “The Middle” and Zedd & Alessia Cara’s “Stay.” Aarons has admitted that Sia is one her songwriting heroes and early on signed on to the same publishing label as her idol.

Mallrat aka Grace Shaw won the “Breakthrough Songwriter Of The Year” award and you can be sure we will be hearing more from this recent transplant to LA.

In addition to the main awards, there was acknowledgment of The 1,000,000,000 List to songwriters who have accumulated over one billion streams globally for an original song. Receiving their awards were Georgi Kay (“In My Mind”), Leroy Clampitt (“Company”), Dann Hume (“See You Again”), dual-honouree Sarah Aarons (“Stay” and “The Middle”) and triple-honouree Joel Little (“Royals,”“Young Dumb & Broke” and “Whatever It Takes”). Sia was acknowledged earlier for nine songs including the David Guetta collab “Titanium,” Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and Katy Perry’s “Chain To The Rhythm.” 

Musician and activist Maya Jupiter hosted the evening. APRA AMCOS ambassador WAFIA kicked things off with a performance of “Young Dumb & Broke” by Khalid. The song was co-written and produced by Joel Little. KIMBRA closed the evening with a quiet but searing performance of “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You,” originally performed and written by Colin Hay.

Walking the red carpet earlier that evening were Australian legend Jenny Morris as well as a host of young up-and-coming songwriters. Other ceremonies were held in Nashville (March 1) and later this week in London (March 6)— for members in those cities, to continue recognizing the many efforts of Aussie and Kiwi songwriters working around the globe.