Letty Katts Award

About the award

The biennial Letty Katts Award supports the research and documenting of Queensland’s music history. It gives a musician, composer, scholar or researcher the opportunity to study, experiment and explore new thinking in their art or area of study, leading to the creation of new knowledge or work inspired by Queensland’s music history. It commemorates Queensland songwriter and musician Violet Mellick (stage name Letty Katts).

The recipient receives a stipend of $5,000, along with a personal workspace within the Neil Roberts Research Lounge for a period of six months, giving premium access to the extensive collections and expert library staff and advice. For more information about the Letty Katts Award please email fellowships@slq.qld.gov.au or call 07 3840 7879 or 07 3840 7887.

Generously supported by Dr Stanton Mellick OAM ED and Professor Jill Mellick through the Queensland Library Foundation.

2020 Letty Katts Award recipient Narelle McCoy

The 2020 Letty Katts Award was awarded to Narelle McCoy for her project Musicians Should Be Heard and Not Seen: the life and music of Letty Katts (1919-2007) and her cultural contribution to the Australian music scene. 

Narelle McCoy will explore the contribution of Queensland-born composer Letty Katts, to the musical landscape of Australia. Compositions such as her popular songs, “Never Never” and “A Town Like Alice” provided a distinctly Australian voice to a scene dominated by American culture. She was the first Australian to have an original song in the popular music hit parade during the 1950s, yet little is known about her.

This project aims to redress that by researching the Letty Katts archives held by the State Library of Queensland and reclaiming Katts’ deserved position as a successful creator of popular music in an era when female composers were rare. Her quote: “Musicians should be heard and not seen” contradicts her determination and her ability to liaise with the (predominately male) decision-makers including publishers and agents.

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Past Letty Katts award winners

Find out more about past recipients of the Letty Katts Award.

Who is Letty Katts?

When I decided to apply for the Letty Katts award, my first thought was “Who is Letty Katts?” I knew that she was an Australian composer. There was little on the internet, but her archives had been given to the State Library of Queensland by her husband Stanton Mellick and her daughter Jill Mellick, who had prepared the material for The Letty Katts Archive and the John Stanton Davis Mellick Archive.

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