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Aaradhna takes a stand at NZ Music Awards, gives away her Tui

The singer-songwriter has gained a wave of support on social media after snubbing her Tui for Best Urban/Hip-Hop Album at last night's event.
Aaradhna

Aaradhna’s poignant, hard-hitting stand against racism was the biggest surprise of the 51st New Zealand Music Awards, which saw Nelson siblings Broods slam-dunk every single one of their five nominations.

The 32-year-old R&B singer from Porirua – born Aaradhna Jayantilal Patel – snubbed her Tui for Best Urban/Hip-hop Album, telling attendees at Auckland’s Vector Arena that she did not want to be put in a “brown people” category and that “to accept this award would not be true … I would be a hypocrite”.

Aaradhna, who also won Best Female Solo Artist, instead chose to give her gong to music collective SWIDT, telling them, “I believe you guys are the future of hip-hop.”

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The move, believed to be the first time an artist has refused a Tui, saw a wave of support from fans across New Zealand on social media – “Brown isn’t a category!” agreed one fan – and follows years of lobbying for an R&B/soul category from musicians. It comes three years after Aaradhna, who is of Samoan-Indian descent, was the victim of racist comments at the awards.

“It was a good moment to win all the awards,” she recalled of the 2013 awards, “but that moment really ruined it for me, you know? That one little thing is actually not little – it’s big – and that’s the moment that made me feel like writing about it.”

Aaradhna’s response? She wrote the acclaimed song “Brown Girl”, which she performed on Thursday night with heartfelt passion, to a standing ovation.

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Elsewhere on the night, it was a victory for Auckland rapper Kings, whose catchy radio hit “Don’t Worry ‘Bout It”, inspired by his young daughter, netted him Breakthrough Artist of the Year. And Maala, aka Evan Sinton, who placed third in New Zealand’s Got Talent, also scored a triumph, scooping Best Male Solo Artist.

This year’s awards, hosted by comedians Jono and Ben, were also an unofficial homage to parenthood, with solo dad Kings, Best Alternative Album winner Lawrence Arabia, acclaimed country artist Tami Neilson and Legacy Award winner Bic Runga all paying tribute to their offspring both on and off stage.

Bic, who performed her 1997 hit “Sway”, told Woman’s Day how her kids were among her biggest supporters, adding, “It’s quite funny to have support from these little children. It’s really sweet and quite unexpected.”

See more highlights from the New Zealand Music Awards in the video below

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