Introducing The GCMA Artist Of The Year Finalists

The Artist Of The Year award, this year sponsored by Southern Cross University, is one of the most coveted accolades to be bestowed upon a lucky (and highly worthy) Gold Coast act as part of the GCMAs.

Last year’s winner, country rock king-pin Casey Barnes, is once again in the running for the gong, not that he’s feeling the pressure in any way, mind you; “To be honest, I’m just extremely grateful to be nominated again! We’ve got SO much incredible talent here on the Goldie now, across every genre… there’s lots to be proud about!”

Despite the challenges of Covid, the ARIA nominee and two-time Golden Guitar finalist has had an impressive 12 months, signing a deal with Michael Gudinski and Mushroom Publishing, releasing a new album, the critically acclaimed 10 song opus, ‘Town Of A Million Dreams’, which smashed it out of the park on a commercial level, catapulting him to the top of music charts across the country. The album’s first two singles, ‘Sparks Fly’ and ‘We’re Good Together’, held down the number one spot on the singles charts for seven weeks and five weeks respectively.

But there’s a swag of incredible talent nipping at his heels this year, led by the righteously riotous hip hop force of nature Jesswar, who shot to prominence over the past 12 months off the back of her explosive track ‘Venom’, which took out the Hip Hop/Rap Award at the recent QMAs (the first female artist to take out the category since its inception four years ago.)

Having recently released her debut EP, ‘TROPIXX’, she also recently took time out from the studio to hit the North Queensland tropics to headline the ‘Grrrls To The North’ travelling regional tour in late June, where she played shows in Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns as part of an all-female hip hop line-up showcasing a remarkable mix of talent curated from each region.

Eclectic, psych-infused crew Peach Fur have rapidly followed up on their ‘Emerging Artist’ nomination at last year’s GCMA’s, off the back of their killer live show and vibrant tracks such as ‘Glimmer’, the ‘Doreen Drive’ EP, which has garnered them over 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and their most recent EP, ‘Awake’, featuring the cosmic delights of recent single ‘Preloved’, which has been nominated in the Song Of The Year category.

And speaking of emerging artists, last year’s winner in the Breakthrough Artist category, Eliza And The Delusionals, are also in the running for the major gong this year.  2020 brought the pop inflected indie-rockers huge success, with the release of both ‘Sentimental’ and breakthrough juggernaut ‘Just Exist’ bringing the band to international acclaim, breaking them into the North American market and accumulating nearly 5 million streams worldwide.

Hollow Coves, the indie-folk inflected Gold Coast duo of Ryan Henderson and Matt Carins, followed up on their initial acclaim (touring the world prior to covid), to release their well-received debut album, ‘Moments’, in 2020.  Their singles, ‘Coastline’, ‘Home’ and ‘The Woods’, collectively garnered over 100 million streams on Spotify.

Another highly worthy candidate for Artist Of The Year is the man with the goosebump-inducing vocal timbre, the humble and extraordinarily talented Karl S Williams. A multi-faceted talent (singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and poet, he is all of those) Karl distils the essence of  blues, roots, folk and Americana into a unique wellspring of wonderment. 2020 saw him release his highly anticipated second album, ‘Lifeblood’, which was described in these pages as possessing “intense swagger and taut urgency”

And rounding out the list of nominations for Artist Of The Year are power packed alternative prog-rock outfit Mass Sky Raid. Initially forming back in 2011 the band released their debut record, ‘Science Of Fiction’ in 2018 and since then have gone from strength to strength, playing Progfest in Brisbane in 2019, with their latest singles, ‘Breakthrough’ and ‘Arrows’, consolidating their reputation as a band on the cusp of greatness.

Artist of the Year is proudly sponsored by Southern Cross University. Tickets and more at

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