The 11th AMP was awarded to Barnett for her debut album, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, at a ceremony in Sydney.
It was the culmination of a year which saw her droll, observational songs of ordinary lives nominated for a Grammy, win three ARIA Awards, become the darling of day and late-night chat shows in the US, and feature in album-of-the-year lists from Scandinavia to South Africa.
Having also survived the weird and wonderful world of the Grammys red carpet in February, the famously shy Barnett was in more comfortable surroundings at the Basement.
“I’ve never had a novelty cheque before,” said a grinning Barnett, looking at the giant yellow chewy for $30,000.
“One thing I really like a about this award is it’s judged on the art and the music, not sales and boring shit like that.”
While Barnett’s achievements may have seemed steps along the way to a foregone result at the AMP, it is worth noting that this makes Barnett only the second female artist to win, after Lisa Mitchell, in the 11 years of a competition modelled on the famous Mercury Prize in Britain.
While Barnett’s songs are particularly Australian, there was an even bigger win for parochial interests, as three states can lay claim to the AMP this year. Barnett spent most of her childhood on Sydney’s northern beaches, moved to Tasmania in her late teens and now lives in Melbourne.