WHEN singer-songwriter Ruby Gill moved to Australia, she dreamed of one day gracing the Port Fairy Folk Festival stage.
Never did she anticipate she'd be announced the Folkie Emerging Artist of the Year.
The South African musical export has been awarded the top title alongside WA's Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse, who were named Artists of the Year today.
"Port Fairy Folk Festival is half the reason I'm doing music, so it's really very special to be recognised by them in particular," Gill said.
"My first year in Australia was weird, because immigration is weird, and I didn't know what to do with myself and I actually stopped playing music.
"A friend of mine who used to live down that way put me in a car and took me to the festival for the first time and I think I spent three days crying. I thought how on earth is it possible that this beautiful community exists, I just sat down and listened to some of the best songwriting I've ever heard.
"I've been every year since then and haven't stopped playing music, it was a huge pivotal point and now I get to go full circle to play it.
"The guy who took me down to the festival is now my guitarist and bass player, so basically Port Fairy changed my life."
Port Fairy changed my life.Ruby Gill
The release of her first single Your Mum last year launched her into the Australian music scene.
A watcher of birds, singer of songs and reader of literature, Gill has a way with words that surpasses her young years and a sound that evokes the likes of Regina Spektor, Joni Mitchell and Julia Jacklin.
The advanced folk artist played one of her first gigs at The Dart and Marlin in Warrnambool and is laying down her first full-length album before Christmas with producer Tim Harvey.
Program Director of the Port Fairy Folk Festival Caroline Moore said Gill, Williams and Ghouse were chosen for the diversity and strength they brought to the Australian folk scene.
"I am so very excited that we are able to acknowledge the great talent of Ruby Gill, with the Emerging Artist Award," she said.
"She is a captivating young performer and I can't wait for her to take to the stage at Port Fairy in 2020.
"Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse are stunning artists whose music is a celebration of life, community and a shared humanity.
"The depth of their talent is extraordinary, and I am so pleased that the festival is able to recognise their great contributions to our music and cultural scene as Artists of the Year."
With a reputation firmly established in bringing a fresh take on ancient traditions and merging evocative sounds, Williams and Ghouse are natural storytellers through song.
Their use of the Noongar language in their songwriting perfectly captures the essence of two good friends, performing beautifully crafted musical stories.
Prior to receiving this award, Williams had taken out the WA Music Industry Award for Best Indigenous Artist on four separate occasions.
In a joint statement, Williams and Ghouse said: "We are deeply honoured and humbled to accept this prestigious award. We stand with those who have gone before us and fought to pave the way for our beautiful languages to be heard again, and we are forever grateful to the elders and community who stand with us today.
"Our hope is that through hearing and understanding the languages of the land on which we live, we can begin to walk together in healing, understanding and love.
"What a wonderful, magical thing it is to be supported in what we do with this beautiful Noongar language. We are eternally grateful."
The Artist of the Year Award was established in 1995 and recognises artists who have made a significant contribution to the music community, culture and industry. Previous recipients include Kasey Chambers, John Butler, Archie Roach, The Waifs, Mick Thomas, Eric Bogle and the inaugural recipient, the late Danny Spooner.
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