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More stars and glamour for the “Swiss Grammys”

Scottish singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald is extremely popular in Switzerland swiss music awards

Scottish star Amy Macdonald topped the bill at the Swiss Music Awards on Thursday night – the Swiss music industry's Grammys equivalent.

Macdonald, along with Swiss singer Stefanie Heinzmann and the Bern-based group Züri West, emerged as the biggest winners at the ceremony.

Heinzmann, who hails from canton Valais, won best song by a Swiss artist for her tune “My man is a mean man”. Züri West walked away with best pop/rock album and best concert.

Other Swiss winners included Zurich rapper Bligg for best urban album. DJ Antoine won for best dance album.

For artists from other countries, the awards went mainly to Macdonald. She won for best album and best international song (“This is the Life”). German rapper Sido took top honours for best international urban album.

Up and coming

The event is only in its second year, but there are signs that it is gaining in recognition. Not only has it attracted more international artists, but it is now being broadcast on television for the first time.

Macdonald performed “This is the Life”, at the ceremony in Zurich. It was the most played song on Swiss radios in 2008.

“Amy Macdonald has been one of the most successful artists in 2008 in Switzerland, her album went four times platinum here, so we are very happy to have her on stage,” Oliver Rosa, the awards’ executive producer, told swissinfo.

This is not the first time that the artist has been in Switzerland. She has performed at Bern’s Gurten Festival and last November she took part in the Avo Sessions festival in Basel, with her act selling out in minutes – even faster than for a previous festival with Elton John.

Macdonald was up for best song international, best newcomer international and best album rock/pop.

Italian star Nek also appeared, as did German band Silbermond, which is very popular in Switzerland. The Basel-based band Lovebugs, the Swiss entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009, topped the domestic acts and Yello’s Dieter Meier helped to hand out the prizes.

Event coup

The award ceremony – which took place in the trendy Kaufleuten club – featured plenty of red carpet glamour and will be televised on a private channel.

Overall there are ten categories – six for Swiss musicians and four for international artists. Last year’s resounding winner was Swiss rapper Stress, who won three gongs.

The event, organised on behalf of IFPI Switzerland, the Swiss branch of the International Federation of Producers of Phonograms and Videograms, has been welcomed by the Swiss music industry.

The sector may only be a small one compared with other countries, based as it is around Switzerland’s three main languages, but it is keen to show that it is lively.

“It’s important for the musicians because they now have a platform to present themselves,” said Christian Strickler, in charge of the swissmusic, a swissinfo online platform for Swiss music recordings.

Strickler said that the awards had been instigated by the IFPI in reaction to falling record sales in relation to the internet and to the fact that local artists have become more popular in Switzerland.

Women on a high note

Among those Strickler tipped to do well were singer-songwriter Sophie Hunger, up for the best national newcomer award.

“Women are getting an upwind, for example, Amy Macdonald, Sophie Hunger and [Swiss singer] Stefanie Heinzmann are not just a product like Britney Spears, they are real personalities writing their own songs and doing their own thing,” he said.

Also popular at the moment is rap in Swiss-German dialect, of which one of its best-known proponents Bligg – real name Marco Bliggensdorfer – who was up for best national song and album. He won the latter.

DJ Sir Colin, or Engin Colin Kilic by birth, was up for the best national dance album. He told swissinfo that he was pleased to be nominated for the second time.

“It shows me that my work is being recognised and that I’ve done a good job,” he wrote via email.

“It’s a good event for the Swiss music scene. I can only praise the organisers, they more or less manage to bring the whole Swiss music industry together. I think it’s a great event and I am looking forward to meeting everybody there.”

For executive producer Rosa, the fans are important as well. “It’s one event a year when you can really touch all musically interested people,” he said.

“But it’s also good for people who don’t follow the music press or listen to new songs on the radio, but find this once-a-year event interesting and get in touch with music that way.”

swissinfo, Isobel Leybold-Johnson in Zurich

The event was started in 2008. The second awards ceremony took place on February 19 at the Kaufleuten club.

The awards will be televised live by ProSieben (Switzerland) and be repeated later by music channel Viva.

Three artists are nominated for each of the ten categories. Decisions are based on music sales and by jury and public vote.

Best Song National: Stefanie Heinzmann,”My Man is a Mean Man”

Best Song International: Amy Macdonald, “This is the Life”

Best Album Pop/Rock National: Züri West, “Haubi Songs”

Best Album Pop/Rock International: Amy Macdonald, “This is the Life”

Best Album Urban National: Bligg, “0816”

Best Album Urban International: Sido, “Ich und meine Maske”

Best Newcomer National: Stefanie Heinzmann

Best Newcomer International: Leona Lewis

Best Album Dance National: DJ Antoine, “Stop”

Best Live Act: Züri West, “Haubi Songs”

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