Megan Washington wins the inaugural Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition


FITZROY-BASED singer and songwriter Megan Washington has beaten a star-studded field to win the inaugural Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition.

Washington’s song How to Tame Lions took out the $50,000 first prize that includes $20,000 cash, air fares, accommodation, studio time, video production assistance and a classic guitar. Runner-ups Eskimo Joe and Caitlin Harnett each received $3500.

”It couldn’t have come at a better time,” a thrilled Washington said yesterday.

”Just three days ago I got invited to play the South by South West Music conference in Austin Texas, which was great, but I didn’t know how we were going to afford it.”

The competition, named after legendary producers and former Easybeats members Harry Vanda and George Young, has also raised $130,000 for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia.

“The calibre of songs was high and that made it very exciting to judge,” said judge Jenny Morris. ”We are very pleased with the winning entry and also pleased that this song will in many ways be the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy song for the next year.”

Washington, 23, was born in Papua New Guinea, moved to Brisbane when she was 13 and now lives in Fitzroy.

She has played in bands with jazz composer Paul Grabowsky, Ben Lee and Old Man River, but only recently started her own group. The win was giving her plenty of confidence as she headed into the studio to start recording her debut album last night.

”Everyone said to me, ‘Just do it,’ but I didn’t feel ready until recently. Now people are digging the songs and it’s all coming together. I can’t wait to get in the studio.”

So what inspired the winning song? ”I had a dream that I called an EP How to Tame Lions, so I did, and then I wrote a song about it,” said Washington, who plays with Sia at the Palace Theatre on Sunday.

”I had just got dumped, so it’s a Polaroid of a day – an examination of the tangible versus the imaginary.”

Was it worth the pain for the $50,000 gain? ”We actually got back together. So I got the song, the boy and the prize!”

Dan Kelly, Midnight Juggernauts, the Fuses and the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra were some of the recipients of the $235,715 handed out yesterday by Arts Minister Lynne Kosky in the latest funding through the Victoria Rocks program.

Patrick Donovan
The Age