Northeast Arnhem Land rockers King Stingray have won the 2022 Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition for ‘Milkumana’. The annual songwriting competition, coordinated by APRA AMCOS and first-place sponsor Alberts, is Australia’s most prestigious and lucrative songwriting contest.
In addition to receiving the $50,000 prize for the top honour, King Stingray’s song ‘Camp Dog’ also came in third place, receiving a $5,000 prize. Both songs are lifted from the self-described “Yolŋu surf rock” band’s self-titled debut album, which arrived last year. ‘Milkumana’ was written by King Stingray members Roy Kellaway and Yirrŋa Gotjiringu Yunupingu, while ‘Camp Dog’ was written by Kellaway.
King Stingray – ‘Milkumana’
The band said they were “over the moon” to win the competition. “It means so much to us, we really do believe what we are singing about and our songs tell a story and a message. We feel really lucky that we can share stories,” Kellaway said.
“The song ‘Milkumana’ is about leadership and the people we look up to and now, all of a sudden, we’ve become leaders in our community and that concept is just so amazing. We come from a small place and we’re singing about big things. Thanks so much for the love, we can’t believe it.”
APRA AMCOS Chief Executive Dean Ormston gave a “hearty congratulations” to the songwriting duo for their song, a “collaboration that is traveling from the top end to all corners of the globe.” King Stingray’s achievement comes just a few months after they won the 18th Australian Music Prize back in March for their debut album.
In second place in this year’s Vanda & Young contest was singer-songwriter Budjerah for 2022 single ‘Ready for the Sky’, co-written with Ainslie Wills. Budjerah said the song was written by himself and Wills “nearly three years ago over FaceTime in the middle of COVID.” He added “We’re very, very grateful that we got second place.”
Sydney-based pop artist Charley won the $5,000 AMPAL Emerging Songwriter Prize this year for her song ‘Worst Taste in Girls’, co-written with Antonio Egizii and David Musumeci. This year’s competition also hosted the category of American Songwriter Spotlight Award, with Los Angeles hip-hop artist Tia P. winning a $1,500 cash prize and feature in American Songwriter for her song ‘That Action’.
This year’s Vanda & Young competition received 2,950 entries from 45 countries. As with every year, entrants’ $50 fee went to support the services of Noro Music Therapy, with $147,500 raised. The contest, named after the Easybeats‘ Harry Vanda and George Young, launched in 2009, with Megan Washington winning the first contest. Genesis Owusu won the competition last year for ‘Gold Chains’, with other previous winners including Thelma Plum, Matt Corby, Amy Shark and Gretta Ray.