Introducing the new GCMA Judges 

There’s no disputing the Gold Coast is bursting with musical talent, with the past nine Gold Coast Music Awards bringing the receipts. 


In order for the GCMAs to truly and whole-heartedly reward the best Gold Coast talent, the Gold Coast Music Network engages a panel of independent judges who are experienced in the business of music and considered experts in their fields.

This year, for the first time in the Gold Coast Music Awards’ 10-year history, the Gold Coast Music Network held a public callout for expressions of interest for new members to join the judging panel. Following an overwhelming number of EOIs from people right across the music industry, we’re excited to reveal 14 new members to the 2024 judging panel.

Gold Coast Music Network’s’ Kirsty Abrahams, who administers the judging panel, said the quality of expressions of interest were incredibly high.

“With well over 900 award nominations in 2023 we decided, for the first time in the GCMA’s 10-year history, to open an expression of interest for industry professionals to join the superstar team of judges,” Kirsty said.

“And the response was overwhelming.”

From the pool of prospective judges, 14 new members have been added to the judging panel, bolstering the ranks to a total of 27 judges. 

We’re thrilled to welcome to the judging panel Karen Waters, Justin Hoareau, Tyler McLoughlan, George Carpenter, Omar Hanlon, Mandi Windus, Danielle Lo Passo, Tara Hart, Dani Teveluwe, Benny D Williams, Kuki Tipoki, Dana Lowrey-Palmer, Richard Macionis and Leah Martin-Brown.

“We were so excited to see the amount of interest shown in joining the judging panel and we’re extremely grateful for the support of the local music industry,” Kirsty said. “Our judges all volunteer their time and we’re really humbled that so many people are prepared to put their hand up to be a judge.”

The Gold Coast Music Awards judging process is unlike any other. GCMA judges dedicate hours of decision-making – first short-listing nominations individually before coming together face-to-face to decide on finalists and winners. Last year, judges listened to and watched more than 24 hours of music for three release categories alone: Song of the Year, Release of the Year and Video of the Year.

Gold Coast Music Network, along with the many artists and creative teams who nominate for a Gold Coast Music Award, are very thankful to our incredible judging panel. We’re looking forward to seeing who takes home a Skull Murphy at the 10th annual Gold Coast Music Awards on Thursday 29 August. Tickets on sale now!


Meet some of the NEW Gold Coast Music Awards judges



Performer / Producer / Songwriter

Multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter and producer DVNA (pronounced DAR-NA) has been turning heads since her project’s genesis in 2017. Her career has already racked up an impressive resume including 28M+ Spotify streams, collaborations with popular Billboard US artist Blackbear, receiving a Gold Record for her work with TOBIAHS, winning Song Of The Year at The Gold Coast Music awards (Looking Like A Snack) and a win at the Queensland Music Awards. DVNA has supported the likes of Baker Boy, MAY-A, LEISURE, Alice Ivy, Tia Gostelow, Arno Faraji and performed at various music festivals including LANEWAY, Springtime, Golden Shores, The Mountain Goat Valley Crawl, Jungle Love and Arcadia. DVNA is currently working with APRA AMCOS facilitating workshops and developing music programs.



The Emerging Musician

Tara Hart is founder of The Emerging Musician, a home to information, education, opportunities and support for aspiring musicians. She is also founder of Parents Who Manage, a nationwide network of people who are involved in a family member’s career – be that in a publicly acknowledged capacity or in a discrete, behind-the-scenes role. Tara was awarded a National Finalist nod in the Industry Observer Guardian of the Year award alongside the parent managers of Ruel, Troye Sivan, Jai Waetford and Tash Sultana. She recently completed  a Master of International Music Business and has used those learnings to support local arts organisations and the next generation of Gold Coast musicians.



Vocal Adrenaline Performing Arts (VAPA)

Danielle Lo Passo is a highly sought-after vocal coach and the founder of Vocal Adrenaline Performing Arts (VAPA).. Since establishing VAPA in 2011, Danielle has played a pivotal role in shaping emerging artists, accumulating over 18 years of teaching experience. Also an accomplished pianist, Danielle not only hones vocal skills but also brings a wealth of musical knowledge to her mentorship. Danielle’s dedication to artist development is palpable in her mentorship of talents such as recording artist India Dupriez and Gold Coast Music Awards nominees Bayley Pearl, Georgia Hoareau and Emmagen Rain.



Evol Walks

Leah Martin-Brown is a vocalist, songwriter and sometimes guitarist from Gold Coast, Australia.Starting her journey at 11 years old when she picked up a guitar, Leah worked her way up in the local industry cutting her teeth in the GC and Brisbane live music scenes. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Popular Music and Grad. Dip in Contemporary Music through Griffith’s Conservatorium before departing Australia’s shores for Los Angeles where she is now based. Leah has shared the stage with the likes of Nita Strauss, Johnny Depp, Joe Perry, Black Label Society and Roy Mayorga, has co-written with Jake Pitts (Black Veil Brides), Dan Jacobs & Travis Miguel (Atreyu) and Tim Henwood (The Superjesus, Rogue Traders) and is known for her powerhouse vocals and passionate stage performances.  As well as fronting heavy rock outfit Evol Walks, she is currently releasing her solo project- produced by Mutt Lange & Tony Nilsson. Having split the last 3 years between Australia, Sweden and USA, Leah is firmly settled back in Los Angeles.



The Sound Pound

On her return from London as a music license broker with Ricall, Tyler McLoughlan founded The Sound Pound in 2011, a Brisbane business specialising in music supervision, clearances and composition across advertising, film and TV. She has worked on projects including music supervision for Billabong, Lunatics (Netflix), Robbie Hood, Bananas (SBS), Retrograde, Content (ABC), and advertising campaigns for Telfast, TAFE, Tourism & Events Queensland, Destination Gold Coast, RACQ and The Natural Confectionary Company. As an artist manager, Tyler looks after the international career of tropical roots artist Bobby Alu.


Sunny Luwe

Dani Teveluwe is a proud Weilwan woman, artist and educator who is best known for her impressive pop soul project Sunny Luwe. She has written and recorded with multiple ARIA Winners, Grammy-nominees and was a finalist for the Queensland Music Awards in 2023. In October that year she released her highly anticipated debut album Flowers in the Sky with a sold out launch show. Creating with the Earth in mind, her music project is carbon offset via conservation non-profit Gondwana Rainforest Trust.



Red Rebel Music

Karen Waters is a respected member of the Australian music industry. Starting her career in 2005, she has worked alongside and been mentored by respected music business professionals including the late CM Murphy (INXS manager) and Stuart Coupe (former Paul Kelly Manager) as well as working with artists such as Lee Kernaghan, INXS and The McClymonts. She currently manages the award winning and ARIA Albums Chart #1 artists Melody Moko and Darlinghurst. Karen is Vice Chair of the Country Music Association of Australia.


MJ Music Studios

Mandi J is a South Sea Islander, NZ born performing arts creative, a prolific songwriter/composer, vocal and acting performance coach and artist development mentor based on the Gold Coast. After working with producers across Australia and international vocal coaches, Mandi J defined her composing craft as a Soul~R&B~Funk artist, collaborating with many artists, and creating EPs and single releases. Her studio space in the Gold Coast on Kombumerri Country provides the ambience and breathing space all creatives desire – a truly creative revolution. 




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