Aaradhna Refuses NZ Awards Win

New Zealand R&B singer Aaradhna caused an uproar at the Nov. 17 New Zealand Music Awards by refusing to accept her win for best urban / hip-hop album for her Brown Girl release. She said she won because she was brown-skinned rather than for the genre of her music.  

“I feel like if you’re putting a singer next to a hip-hop artist, it’s not fair,” she told the audience at Auckland’s . ”I’m a singer, I’m not a rapper, I’m not a hip-hop artist. It feels like I’ve been placed in the category of brown people. That’s what it feels like.”

The New Zealand-born daughter of an Indian father and Samoan mother had earlier won best female solo artist for the album, which topped the New Zealand charts earlier this year. The title track was written about the casual racism she had encountered while growing up. Aaradhna continued, “It speaks on racism, and being placed in a box. And for me, I feel like if I was to accept this, I feel like I’m not being truthful in my song.”

She gave the award instead to the hip hop group SWIDT, which was nominated in the category, telling them, “I believe that you guys are the future of hip-hop.”

Damian Vaughan, CEO of Recorded Music New Zealand, which organised the awards, said he “had no problem” with Aaradhna’s sentiments. In debates in New Zealand media, members of the music industry applauded her stand, and suggested the awards give hip-hop its own category in the future.

The night belonged to Broods, aka siblings Georgia and Caleb, which won five categories (best group, Vodafone people’s choice award, album of the year, best pop album, single of the year).

The band accepted its win via video message from Los Angeles. Signed to Capitol Records, Broods toured North America, Australia and New Zealand. Next March, Broods makes its European live debut, opening for Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo, who appears on their album. The March 2-17 dates begin with two shows in Sweden, taking in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France and winding up with two shows in the UK.

A number of 2016’s winners reflected New Zealand’s growing international presence on the global market. Seven piece dub-reggae outfit Fat Freddy’s Drop received the international achievement award.

Its No. 1 New Zealand album Bays also reached No. 12 in Australia, where the band toured along with Hong Kong and South Africa.

UK shows are locked in for June 2017.

The band 

“I feel like if you’re putting a singer next to a hip-hop artist, it’s not fair,” she told the audience at Auckland’s , which won highest selling single of the year and radio airplay record of the year, relocated to Los Angeles this year after signing to Capitol Records.

Joel Little, who took best producer and engineer kudos for his work with the Broods in the awards’ artisan section, works primarily out of Los Angeles.