Debbie Kruger
Ten Best Australian Songs

2002 APRA Music Awards

Classical Music Awards

Screen Music Awards

Don't Give Up Your Day Job

Other stuff

I worked for APRA from 2000 to 2003. APRA stands for the Australasian Performing Right Association. Its members are Australian and New Zealand composers, songwriters and music publishers. APRA is the organisation that pays royalties to the people who create the music, and is affiliated with societies such as ASCAP and BMI in the United States, PRS in the United Kingdom and SOCAN in Canada.

Rather than go any further into it here, I'll just point you in the direction of the APRA website. I was responsible for the content of the site, which is full of information about APRA, events in the music industry, resources and more.

APRA Corporate logo

APrap magazine cover As Manager of Communications and Public Affairs for APRA, I was the editor of a range of publications. The biggest of these was APrap, a magazine for APRA members which is published three times a year. I wrote in-depth profiles on composers and songwriters such as Andrew Farriss, Paul Kelly, David Hirschfelder, Graeham Goble, Paul Begaud, John Butler, Peter Sculthorpe and more. I worked with the designers, Michele and Tania at Elastik, to give the magazine a vibrant, contemporary feel. Click on the magazine cover to read the last issue I edited or any of the issues prior to that.

Deb interviews Peter Sculthorpe and Tim Freedman for APrap
In addition to APrap, I edited a glossy newsletter called Antenna for APRA's music publisher members, and an informal, fun internal newsletter, INsider, for APRA's 200 staff.

There were other publications such as brochures and handbooks that I put together for APRA, and I organised all corporate advertising.

Of course, a major part of my role at APRA was communicating with the media and the public, often using the media to get to the public. I wrote press releases on everything from APRA's annual report to new licence schemes for digital radio, but nothing quite captured the imagination of the people out there like the list of the Ten Best Australian Songs of the past 75 years, which was announced at the APRA Music Awards in May 2001. Newspaper clippings
2001 APRA Music Awards logo I've worked on some huge events in my time, including mammoth arts festivals running over 18 days, but I think the 2001 APRA Music Awards was the most successful campaign I have managed to date. The Awards had two major components - the annual awards given to songwriters, composers and publishers for the best and/or most performed works in different genres, and the 75th anniversary celebrations featuring the Ten Best Australian Songs. The media went beserk trying to guess what the songs might be, provoked initially by my clever announcement, three weeks earlier, of a list of 20 songs that made numbers 11-30 on the list.
Leading up to the Awards I arranged many interviews for Harry Vanda, as speculation was rife that "Friday on my Mind," the 1967 song he had written with George Young for the Easybeats, would be the number one song on APRA's list - which, of course, it was. On the big night, I had the pleasure of working backstage with several of the other writers whose songs had made the list. Slim Dusty took the accolades for "Pub with no Beer" in the absence of the late Gordon Parsons, who had written the song.
Songwriters of APRA's Ten Best Australian Songs
L-R: Peter Garrett, Slim Dusty, Ross Wilson, Rob Hirst, Harry Vanda, James Moginie, Robert Lovett, Don Walker, Dave Mason. Photo by Tony Mott
More press clippings Media coverage leading up to the Awards on May 28 and after was phenomenal, certainly beyond anything APRA had experienced before. In fact, APRA recieved more coverage in the press, on radio and television, during the months of May and June, than in the 75 years previous!

I personally conducted dozens of radio interviews, and at 6.20am on the morning after the Awards, 2GB's Philip Clark was trying to get me to sing "Friday on My Mind" on air. I think I resisted.

There was also great coverage of the general APRA Music Awards, which saw Killing Heidi's Ella and Jesse Hooper take out the coveted Songwriter of the Year award.

Not all the projects I worked on at APRA were as exciting and exhausting as the 2001 APRA Music Awards were, but it was wonderful to have such a major event with which to make my mark in my first year with the organisation.
Debbie with Harry Vanda
Debbie with Harry Vanda.
Photo by Tony Mott
Debbie with Jesse and Ella Hooper
Debbie with Jesse and Ella Hooper of Killing Heidi, APRA's 2001 Songwriters of the Year. Photo by Tony Mott

The 2002 APRA Music Awards were launched with a media event on 8 May 2002 and the focus was very much on the songwriting of today and the future – the new wave of Australian songwriters.
Daniel Jones, ex of Savage Garden, was on hand at the launch as he was a nominee with fellow ex-Savage Garden partner Darren Hayes. He was also there to support his protegees, the duet Aneiki, who were nominated in the same category as himself! He said he wanted Aneiki to win.
But on the big night, June 3, Daniel and Darren were successful on two counts, with Most Performed Australian Work and Most Performed Australian Work Overseas. Jennifer Waite and Grant Wallis from Aneiki did win the inaugural Breakthrough Songwriter Award, though, so Daniel was chuffed as he is their publisher.
If being photographed with the gorgeous Daniel Jones wasn't enough, here I am at the launch with paulmac, Australia's hottest dance music composer, producer and musician. Such a talented guy. I'm a self-confessed classic rock addict, but I love paulmac's music. He was a popular performer on the Awards night and a popular winner, taking out the inaugural Most Performed Dance Work award.
The big winner on the night was Kasey Chambers, announced Songwriter of the Year, and quite an emotional recipient given that she had only just given birth to her first child 11 days earlier. As she said with some understatement, "I've had a big week."

Kasey and Debbie
Alex Lloyd was also a major winner, taking out the Song of the Year award for "Amazing." He wasn't there to perform it, so in a big surprise for the 500-strong crowd, Beeb Birtles, Glenn Shorrock and Graeham Goble of The Original Little River Band did the song in their own harmonically sweet way.

L-R: Beeb, Deb, Glenn and Graeham

Birtles, Shorrock and Goble live at the 2002 APRA Music Awards
Photos by Bob King
Beeb Birtles' website has all the latest on the Birtles Shorrock Goble reunion and future plans.
A couple of my favourite performers on the Awards night were country artists Adam Brand and Graeme Connors, who didn't win anything but delivered a fine acoustic rendition of their co-written song "Good Things in Life."

In 2002 APRA presented a Classical Music Awards night in conjunction with the Australian Music Centre. It was quite an illustrious gathering of contemporary classical composers - including Peter Sculthorpe, Carl Vine, Ross Edwards, Liza Lim, Matthew Hindson and the marvellous 90-year old Miriam Hyde among others. The cream of the country's classical music industry was also on hand.
At the Classical Music Awards I caught up with a number of people from my Kruger PRofiles days in Byron Bay and Brisbane. I hadn't seen Lyndon and Liz Terracini since my days doing PR for NORPA in 1994 so catching up with them was quite an occasion.
And I always love to see my dear pals from the ABC Radio National Music Show — producers Maureen Cooney and Penny Lomax, and the always jovial presenter and composer Andrew Ford.

The third APRA awards night for 2002 took place on November 18 at the Hordern Pavilion, this time honouring screen composers. The APRA-AGSC Screen Music Awards were a big hit with the film and television industries, as well as the composers themselves, who enjoyed their turn in the spotlight. Congratulations to Alan John, Mario Millo, David Hirschfelder and all the other guys who scored kudos on the night.
One of the presenters was Tom Burlinson, he of Snowy River and Phar Lap fame, more recently renowned as the ultimate Frank Sinatra tribute singer in Australia. I knew Tom when he was Nicole Kidman's guy many years ago so we had a bit of a catch up. Only a bit, though, because my job was to ensure he got photographed a lot — with people other than me!

There were many great and interesting composers there, including Bruce Rowland, who wrote the scores for both the Snowy River films as well as Phar Lap, plus Martin Armiger, David Bridie, and the wonderful classical genius Peter Sculthorpe, who was brimming with pride that a couple of his former students had won awards that night.

But of course my main job as always was to schmooze the media and make sure they were happy. Here I am with one of my favourite tv guys, Nick Bennett, from Channel 7's Sunrise program.

On 7 November 2002 I sang at a music industry benefit gig called "Don't Give Up Your Day Job." This was the third time the fundraiser had been staged in as many years, but the first time I'd been asked to participate. The title says it all, of course. Music industry people who are not known as singers get up and sing to raise money for a good cause - Father Riley's Youth Off The Streets program. Performers included radio and TV identities Vic Davies (Club Veg, Triple M), Bogart Torelli (MIX FM), Adam Spencer (Triple J), Angela Bishop (Channel 10 News), Jabba (Channel V) and a host of newspaper and magazine scribes, record company types, a record producer, and yours truly, representing APRA.
We were backed by a magnificent band that included Iva Davies on guitar, Iain Shedden on drums, Nicole Salisbury and Chelsea Anthon on bvox, a three-piece horn section, two keyboards and more. The idea being, naturally, to make us sound as good as possible. Or, as the case happened to be, to drown us out as much as possible with their loudness. Bless 'em.

I delivered a rocking version of "You're No Good" a la my idol Linda Ronstadt.

Deb sings "Youre No Good" at the
Don't Give Up Your Day Job III benefit.
The tambo was bought in 1978 inspired by seeing Linda R using one just like it on TV, and I'd only ever used it on stage before in 1984 singing with Sherbet.
We were all judged by a panel comprising musos David McCormack, Sarah McLeod, paulmac and Belinda Chapple. I performed very early on in the night, before the judges had really figured out what the overall standard was, consequently I didn't score as highly as I probably would have if I'd been on later... Nevertheless, I was quite content with my scores of 9,9,8,and 8 respectively, and Sarah did say, "I wanted to be able to say 'You're no good,' but in fact you were quite good!"
I think I did Linda proud. And had a great night in the process. And I've already figured out what I want to sing at the next "Don't Give Up Your Day Job" benefit. Be sure to come along next time, won't you!

I was singing again soon enough — this time at the 2002 APRA staff Christmas Party as part of the evening's entertainment, billed as the APRAholics. As the theme of the party was "kitch", it was decided that a rendition of "The Look of Love" a la Dusty Springfield was in order. Now, we all know that the gorgeous Dusty was never kitch, just very cool, so my performance was delivered accordingly.

Through APRA I was able to develop great relationships with the founding members of Little River Band, especially after the appearance of Birtles, Goble and Shorrock at the 2002 APRA Music Awards. In November 2002 they did a gig at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney that was just glorious, and the party afterwards was great fun, espcially as it was also a celebration of Beeb Birtles' birthday. Photographer and friend Bob King was on hand as always.

Deb, Beeb and Beeb's niece Louise

Deb at the post-Enmore Theatre party,
with BGS manager Steve White behind
Other than the APRA Music Awards, the most fun I had each year was going to Tamworth for the Country Music Festival and Golden Guitar Awards, which APRA is a sponsor of. APRA runs songwriting seminars and in 2003 held a cocktail party for members, industry guests and international songwriters who were in Tamworth.
My favourite country songwriter in Australia is Graeme Connors. His annual show on the second Friday of the festival at Tamworth Town Hall is not to be missed. At the APRA cocktail party the night before his gig, I introduced Graeme to my friend Elloise, a Byron Bay pal who is currently on ABC Radio News in Coffs Harbour. She has become a country music nut lately and is a big fan of Graeme, so she was in her element.
Graeme's latest album This Is Life is mentioned in my Top 10 Albums of 2002. You can check out what he is up to on his own Graeme Connors website, too.
Another good mate is Roger Corbett, songwriter and member of the Bushwackers. Here we are with the wonderful wacky Canadian songwriter Fred Eaglesmith (on the right) at the APRA cocktail party at Tamworth in 2003.
You can find out more about the Country Music Festival in Tamworth and everything else in Australian country music at the Country Music Association of Australia's CMAA website. You can see all the winners of the Golden Guitar Awards there.
I left APRA in 2003. It was such a privilege working for the organisation, and if you are a songwriter or composer make sure you are a member!!

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