The talented teen, who seems to be on a dream run after taking out triple J’s Unearthed High competition earlier this year, says she was smack-bang in the middle of her HSC exams when she got given the good news.
“I missed the first call because I was in the middle of doing a practice exam,” she tells tripel j. “I turned my phone on when I was finished and had a text saying ‘hey, could you call back – it’s about the Vanda and Young songwriting competition’ and I was like ‘no way!’.
“[They] called me again and told me and I was just in shock for the rest of the day, the week – I’m still in shock right now. It’s unbelievable!.”
Thanks to APRA AMCOS and the good people at Alberts, Gretta has been awarded $50,000 — the largest first prize for any songwriting competition in the world — at a special presentation in Sydney today.
“For any artist this would be an amazing thing in their career. This is not an industry that brings a lot of money to many people,” Ray says. “You really have to struggle or get other jobs to support yourself which I will probably have to do too. But this is an incredible privilege.
“[I’m] about to finish high school and now I have this advantage in supporting my journey. I wanted to take a gap year and just throw myself into the music world. This makes that more possible. This is the job I really want to do and this will help make that dream more real.”
The silver medal in the annual songwriting comp has gone to another familiar face: Emma Louise, for her song Underflow, which snagged her a $10,000 prize.
While tied for third were Sydney’s Tigertown for their tune Lonely Cities and American songwriter Tia P for 4 Seats From Beyoncé (she just became the competition’s first international prizewinner), with both receiving $5,000 a piece.
Listen to all of 2016’s winning tunes below.
Listen: Gretta Ray – ‘Drive’
Watch: Emma Louise – ‘Underflow’
Watch: Tigertown – ‘Lonely Cities’
Watch: Tia P – ‘4 Seats From Beyoncé’