Two years in the making, and marking the beginning of a three year commitment, Levi’s and BIGSOUND have named the inaugural winner of the Levi’s Music Prize, an incredibly deserving Stella Donnelly.

Announced this morning, the Perth singer-songwriter was unanimously voted the winner of the $25,000 prize by a panel of ten judges who traveled from around Australia and the world, and deliberated on the final night of the conference after all the shows had wrapped up.

Stella travelled from Perth to give some very impressive performances on the triple j Unearthed stage and the cosy confines of Heya Bar, where she also played as part of her band, Boat Show.

Engaging banter and a fantastic voice lodged Stella firmly at the top of many people’s ‘best of BIGSOUND’ lists, and while judges talked it over for an hour and a half, it was an easy choice in the end.

“Bigsound has been an incredible experience,” Stella said following her award, presented by QMusic executive officer Joel Edmondson.

“There have been so many brilliant artists playing every night and just to be apart of this musical community has blown my mind. To be chosen as the Levi’s Music Prize winner is an absolute shock, surprise and honour.”

Stella went on to note the “privileged position” she has as a white Australian, and thank BIGSOUND for its efforts in promoting gender diversity in the music industry.

Three more rounds of prizes, each worth $25,000, will be awarded throughout the year to various other BIGSOUND alumni, with the total prize pool amounting to $300,000 over the course of three years.

“We thank the Australian music community for once again making us the strongest music events of its type,” Edmondson said. “We not only congratulate the Inaugural Levi’s Music Prize winner Stella Donnelly, but also all the BIGSOUND artists that have achieved recording deals, publishing deals, show offers and other outcomes from their BIGSOUND experience.”

Having signed with Philip Stevens Management earlier in the month, Stella is working on the follow-up to her debut EP Thrush Metal, released in April through Melbourne’s Healthy Tapes.

Stella Donnelly’s single ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, from her debut EP Thrush Metal

Levi’s Music Prize judging panel:

Jane Abernethy – 4AD
Jackie Nalpant – Paradigm
Mary Ramos – Saturday Music Inc.
Melissa Woods – Third Side Music
Jillian Mapes – Pitchfork
Stuart Myer – Sub Pop
Peter Berard – Domino
Mazin Tappuni – Communion
Marshall Betts – Paradigm
Mike Ajayi – All My Friends