Why the big deal about Tones and I’s acceptance speech?

Do you have kids? Or do you listen to the radio?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then it’s very likely that you’ve heard the extremely catchy and well over-played pop/dance song, Dance Monkey.

It’s almost impossible not to sing along to the tune, which is belted out in distinctive style by Byron Bay former busker Tones And I, known on her birth certificate as Toni Watson.


On Wednesday night Toni took home her first ARIA award for Best Female Artist and her speech has generated loads of headlines – for all the right reasons.

If my children ever win an award of any description, I hope they feel even half of the feelings that Toni expressed during her award!

Because to her, it wasn’t about the validation. It wasn’t about accomplishment, or even fitting in or being accepted by the industry.

It was about being herself, expressing herself as an artist, and being appreciated for being just that – herself.

“Sometimes I don’t think that I’m the most relatable female artist,” she began.

“I’m not into make-up or dresses or typically girly things. But to me, those things don’t really define what it is to be a female artist in this industry any more. It’s being brave and courageous and true to yourself.”

She went on to say that nothing could have prepared her for “the whole world judging me and comparing [me] to other artists” once she hit the big time.

“But what’s most important is that you have to be a good person and care about others and carry yourself well,” she said.

“Thank you for Australia letting me know that I’m okay just the way I am.”

We think she’s more than okay, as she’s letting the next generation of artists know that you no longer need to conform to the rigid, shallow standards of the entertainment industry if you want to succeed as an artist these days.

The singer took home a total of four trophies at the ARIAs, including Breakthrough Artist, Best Pop Release (for Dance Monkey, which has gone to number one in 35 countries, including Australia, where it broke a record for the longest time spent in top position) and Best Independent Release.

See the full list of winners here.