Rising Kiwi pop star Kimbra better clear off some space on her mantlepiece - she's just won her first award.

The 21-year-old Hamilton-born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter took home the Critics' Choice Prize - an award given to up-and-coming acts that judges believe are destined for greatness.

She beat three-piece Flying Nun rockers Popstrangers and Christchurch-based alt-country act The Unfaithful Ways after a live show at the Kings Arms in Auckland last night.

Each of the bands played 20-minute sets, with 13 judges in the crowd choosing a winner on the night. Kimbra's set was rapturously received, with fans filming and taking photos from the front row.


Receiving the award was an amazing achievement, Kimbra said in a statement.

"It's wonderful to be acknowledged here in my homeland by critics and music industry insiders. I've put a lot of hard work into my music and winning the Critics' Choice Prize means the world to me."

Her prizes include a $10,000 recording and music video grant, a $2000 gift voucher courtesy of The NZ Rockshop and mentoring from industry experts.

Kimbra recently released her major label debut Vows to rave reviews, thanks to intelligent and super-catchy singles like Settle Down and Cameo.

Reviewer Lydia Jenkin said Kimbra was an engaging live presence and this had come across on Vows.

"She's a striking 21-year-old but she's also a delight to watch, full of theatrics, drama, and spiky, angular dance moves, and this translates to the album."

And she told TimeOut's Scott Kara that music was something she was drawn to.

"It sounds cheesy but I do think music has called me to it and I feel like I have a responsibility to go forth and pursue it ... do something with it," she said.


The Critics' Choice Prize is a prelude to the New Zealand Music Awards on November 3. Last year's award was won by Auckland grunge-rockers Street Chant.

Check out nzherald.co.nz's live stream of the Critics Choice Awards below:

-Herald online