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November 5, 2020

Who won what at the 2020 South Australian Music Awards?

Motez, Jess Day, Wing Defence and Jessica Wishart picked up multiple awards in a ceremony that celebrated the strength of the South Australian music industry in one of the most trying years in its history.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Pictures: Supplied

The 2020 South Australian Music Awards were held on Tuesday night, 3 November, with the local industry coming together to celebrate their communal achievements in spite of what has been an extremely difficult year for punters, performers and crew alike.

All sides of the industry gathered on the University of Adelaide’s Cloisters and lawns, the open-air venue now known as The College Green, to witness the awards ceremony.


Browse the SAM Awards red carpet gallery here.

This article was produced in collaboration with the South Australian Music Awards.

The formal proceedings were interlaced with performances from Chelsea Manor, J-MILLA, Seabass and Lonelyspeck.

For the first time in CityMag‘s history, we presented a SAM Award – the inaugural Best Innovation award.

This category gave kudos to the quick thinkers in the South Australian music industry who developed a response to the global pandemic, creating outlets for fans and musicians to connect despite the tyranny of distance created by venues being forcibly shut.

Nominated for the award were Mosaic Audio Visual, who launched Ghost Light Bunker; Sparkke at the Whitmore, for their livestreamed Thursday Night Knock Offs series; The Wheaty’s WheatyLIVE initiative; livestreaming collectives Sunny Side Uploads and Space Jams; and Play/Pause/Play, which developed and released an SA music podcast.

The award ultimately went to Luke Penman of Play/Pause/Play, who used his acceptance speech to call attention to the dire need for government support in the local music industry.

“Fifteen-thousand-dollar project grants don’t make projects like the six that we’ve seen nominated tonight viable,” Luke said.

“We need real funding; we need real investment from a State Government that believes in what we all know is a strong sector.

“Funding for the local music industry is about more than the local music industry. It is an investment, and it’s an investment not just because of the art itself, it’s not an investment just because it makes life worth living and it builds the cultural fabric of South Australia; it’s literally a financial investment that grows, because the local music scene gets people out of the house, it gets people spending money in local businesses, it creates jobs in the music industry, in hospitality. It supports jobs in graphic design, in photography, in videography, in games… and we need to see a hell of a lot more of it.”

See Luke’s acceptance speech in full here.

We’ve got the full list of 2020 SAM Award winners below, so read on and send kudos to your favourites accordingly.


Industry-voted awards

Best Studio
Ghostnote Recording Studios


Best Studio Engineer/Producer
Mario Spate


Best Live Technician
Luke Hancock


Best Major Festival/Event
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival – Adelaide


Best Small Festival/Event
The Porch Sessions


Best Venue
Lion Arts Factory


Best Cover Art
Todd Fischer (Lost Woods – Shaping Distant Memories)


Best Manager
Matthew Khabbaz


Best Music Video
Motez – ‘Soulitude’ (Motez, Pilot Studio, Mapped Design, Daggers Production, Kelsee Pedler)


Best Song
Jess Day – ‘Affection’


Best New Artist
Siberian Tiger & Slowmango


Best Group
Wing Defence


Best Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Artist
Jessica Wishart


Best Solo Artist
Jess Day


Best Release
Motez – Soulitude & Wing Defence – Friends


Best Music Educator
Nick O’Connor


Best Innovation



People’s Choice Awards

Blues & Roots
Ollie English


Jessica Wishart




Sons of Zoku


Naomi Keyte


No No No No No


Hip Hop
We Move Like Giants


Django Rowe




Wing Defence







Special Awards

UNESCO Best International Collaboration Award
Farhan Shah and Udan Khatola


Music SA Community Achievement Award
Craig Armstrong


APRA AMCOS Emily Burrows Award



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