Troy Kingi wins prestigious Taite Music Prize

By Jessica Tyson

Singer Troy Kingi has been awarded the Taite Music Prize 2020 for his deep-roots, reggae album Troy Kingi & the Upperclass - Holy Colony Burning Acres.

The Taite Music Prize highlights outstanding New Zealand albums released in the past calendar year. The award is open to all genres of music from any record label and judged on artistic merit, regardless of genre or sales.

The annual awards ceremony took a slightly different stage this year due to COVID-19 regulations. Originally to take place at Auckland's Q Theatre in April, the awards ceremony found a new home via webstream with the main award, Taite Music Prize, presented to Kingi by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Kingi delivered the award-winning album Holy Colony Burning Acres last July with his band The Upperclass.

The album is a deeply personal and spiritual examination of the plight of First Nations peoples around the world.  It delves into the dark corners of worldly indigenous politics, namely colonisation and its crippling effects on today’s social climate.

Troy Kingi & The Upperclass also won the Best Māori Artist award at the New Zealand Music Awards last year for the same album.

During his speech, Kingi said he dedicated the award to indigenous people around the world.

“Our indigenous people are going through a lot of s**t at the moment. I’m just really happy that this generation, they’re conscious thinkers seeking the truth looking for the histories.”

Kingi then told people in the audience, to “find out your history, find out about our history and you’ll find out our country will change a lot for the better.”

He's happy artists are feeling more comfortable to write music that highlight issues facing indigenous communities.

"There was a bit of a tapu thing where you couldn't write a certain way but it feels like the walls have broken down and you can write about anything now, he said. 

"When it feels like there's no hope music is just uplifting, whether its the answer I don't know."

Holy Colony Burning Acres is the third instalment in Troy Kingi's 10/10/10 series: 10 albums in 10 genres in 10 years. As part of the prize, Kingi will receive a cash prize of $12,500 from Taite Music Prize founding partner, Recorded Music NZ; recording time at the Red Bull Studios in Auckland; and a year’s supply of Red Bull product.

Named after the late Dylan Taite, one of the country’s most highly respected music journalists, The Taite Music Prize recognises outstanding creativity in an entire collection of music contained on one recording. Previous winners include Avantdale Bowling Club, Lorde and Ladi6.

For more on this story watch Tapatahi on Māori Television on Wednesday at 7am.