ARIA Awards 2021: Rising star Budjerah chokes back tears after inaugural Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist win


Teenager rising star Budjerah struggled to hold back tears as he was awarded the inaugural Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist award at the ARIA Awards 2021.

The award was presented to the 18-year-old by British superstar Ed Sheeran. Joining the Sydney ceremony via satellite, Sheeran shared gushing words about the late chairman and founder of the Mushroom Group, who passed away in March at the age of 68. 

Budjerah at the 2021 ARIA Awards at Taronga Zoo on November 24, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Getty)

The award was formerly known as Best Breakthrough Artist but was renamed in honour of the music mogul. And Budjerah was its very first recipient.

“I want to say my parents my mum and my dad who travel with me. I didn’t expect to cry but I’m crying and I sound weird,” he said in his acceptance speech.

“This is incredible. And thank you to Michael. I only spoke to him twice but he opened a lot of doors for me. And I just can’t believe this. Thank you.”

Michael Gudinski, the founder of Mushroom Records, passed away in March. (Redferns)

The incredibly talented Budjerah scored five nominations on the night and performed his hit single ‘Missing You’ from his self-titled debut EP. 

Gudinski was known for cultivating young talent such as Sheeran, Kylie Minogue and for a short while, Budjerah. The music mogul founded the Mushroom Group in 1972 at just 20 years old, which flourished into Australia’s largest independent entertainment group covering touring, record labels, publishing, merchandising, booking agencies, film and television production and creative services.

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Human Nature, Andrew Tierney, Toby Allen, Michael Tierney and Phil Burton, ARIA Hall of Fame, Casey Chambers

ARIA Awards Hall of Fame inductees over the years



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