The stage is set for Australia’s up and coming artists to go head-to-head, with the top ten to perform at the Toyota Star Maker Grand Final tonight!
The Toyota Star Maker Grand Final is a mere three hours away! Helping to launch the careers of some of Australia’s best country stars, it’s the nation’s longest running and most respected country music competitions. The winner will join the long list of country music royalty, including the likes of Keith Urban, James Blundell, Travis Collins, Beccy Cole, Kaylee Bell, Blake O’Connor, Sammy White, Rachael Fahim, Brad Cox and Lee Kernaghan.
Taking place at 7pm at Toyota Park, as part of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, will see the top ten finalists perform two songs each as they vie for the prestigious Toyota Star Maker title (Lyn Bowtell and Lee Kernaghan will also perform). Chosen from almost one hundred entries, the top ten sees eight artists from regional NSW, as well as one from regional Queensland and regional Victoria.
The 2022 Toyota Star Maker top ten, in alphabetical order, are:
Growing up in a music loving family, Billie-Jo Porter describes her childhood as being one that was immersed in the songs of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, John Williamson and Carol King. Her ambitions to sing began in her primary school years, but it wasn’t until her 20s that the young song writer burgeoned into a new found passion for the guitar and the lyrical form.
She has seen her fair share of big audiences and high-profile stages, playing Revelstoke Street Fest in Canada, Bello Winter Music Festival and the Tamworth Country Music Festival. She has also supported Hussy Hicks and Minnie Marks on the Great Southern Nights Tour, Gretta Ziller and Riley Catherall on the Biggest Little Show in Town tour and Kevin Bennett, Jeremy Edwards and Jen Mize at the Dag Sheep Station Songwriters Showcase.
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Powerhouse singer-songwriter Brittany Elise was a finalist at the 2021 Gympie Music Muster and was shortlisted as a finalist for the Patti McKinnon ‘Up and Coming Artist’ Award at the ICMA Australian Awards. In 2021, she started the initiative of ‘Raise Your Voice’, a show empowering local female singer-songwriters, whilst bringing local community women together.
She’s currently working on her second album. It’ll follow her 2019 debut, Something More, which debuted at #2 on the Australian iTunes country charts and #20 on the all genres chart. Brittany has performed both internationally and in Australia at various festivals, as well as supported Lee Kernaghan, Graeme Connors, Tania Kernaghan, Lyn Bowtell, Carter & Carter and Melody Moko.
Emerging country singer-songwriter, Charlie Fittler has with deep ties to the land, having lived his entire 18 years on his family's fifth-generation Merino sheep property in the New South Wales Northern Tablelands outside of Armidale. He started playing guitar at eight-years-old and, four years later, performed at his first open mic night at a local restaurant, which cemented his love for performing.
He attended The Academy of Country Music in 2018, at which he co-wrote his debut single Guitar Can't Drink a Beer, released in 2019, with multi–Golden Guitar winner Travis Collins. That same year, he performed a captivating cover of George Ezra's hit, Shotgun on The Voice Australia.
Raised on a farm in Oberon, NSW, Clancy Pye grew up with country music in her blood. Surrounded by a musical family, she first picked up a guitar at the age of six and has spent her life performing in front of audiences ever since. She has played opening support spots for the likes of Adam Harvey and Busby Marou, and has also performed internationally, accompanying her older brother and fellow artist, Mickey Pye to perform at renowned country music festivals in Canada and Nashville.
Fast becoming one of the most exciting singer-songwriters to emerge in Australian country music, Clancy released her debut self-titled EP in 2020 which saw her music gain widespread recognition. Her first two self-penned singles Get Lost and Heaven Can’t Wait both debuted at #1 on the iTunes Country Singles Chart and drew support from new fans as well as radio stations nationwide.
20-year-old singer-songwriter Heath Lancaster, from Kempsey NSW, is a rising talent. Having spent his childhood listening to Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers and Sara Storer in the back seat of his parents' car, country music runs deep in his veins, and he has high aspirations to have a long career within the industry.
The recipient of the inaugural ‘Keith Urban Scholarship’ at the 2020 CMAA Country Music Academy, he has dedicated himself to becoming a professional musician. He released his debut single in August 2020. Heath has since achieved over 80,000 streams across Spotify and Apple Music. His single, Little Pictures has been popular on YouTube playlists with a combined following of over 1.5 million subscribers and one video reaching 1 million views.
Having shared the stage with Jessica Mauboy and Kelly Rowland, Loren Ryan was known as an R&B artist before making the switch to country music. The First Nations singer-songwriter, proudly from the Gamilaraay Nation, writes original songs and translates well known Australian songs into her traditional language. She achieved her first iTunes #1 single, Eventually, earlier this year.
A tribute to her daughter, her latest album Songs for Charlie is a kids country music album including covers of her daughter’s favourites, as well as four original tracks. The album incorporates words and verses in the Gamilaraay language and the musical backing of the didgeridoo and clapsticks. In 2017, Loren performed Bootylicious on The Voice Australia in 2017.
Country singer-songwriter, Katie Jayne began her career in the United Kingdom in 2015 as the driving force behind the duo Southern Junction. Making her debut at the Isle of Wight Festival, she went on to play many impressive venues including London’s O2 Arena, for the Country2Country Festival as well as the UK’s two leading country music festivals, Buckle and Boots and FSA Fest.
Originally from Dubbo and now residing in Newcastle, Katie writes songs for girls just like her, while drawing inspiration from the likes of Miranda Lambert, The Chicks and Dolly Parton. A favourite in the digital landscape, Katie’s music sits at over 1 million streams. Combine that with multiple top 20 radio placements and many festivals under her belt, Katie continues to go from strength to strength.
Since the age of 14, North East Victorian singer-songwriter, Jade Gibson has performed over 500 gigs across Australia and the USA. From performing in pubs and B&S Balls to playing alongside some of Australia's most popular country music acts including The Wolfe Brothers, Travis Collins and Christie Lamb, have all helped shape Jade’s sound and show.
She released her debut EP, The Great Unknown in March 2019, which featured songs inspired by her idols Keith Urban, The Chicks and Fleetwood Mac with stories of being young, love, heartbreak and chasing dreams. The title track debuted at #1 on the Country iTunes charts, stamping her name as an upcoming artist to watch on the Australian country music scene.
Jake Davey has been honing his craft in music since the age of 6. Still in his early 20s, Jake is also an accomplished producer who runs his own studio. Following the release of his 2019 debut single On Your Mind, Jake won the 2020 ‘Travis Collins Scholarship’ to attend the CMAA Academy in Tamworth, which lead to his first-ever publishing deal and a collaboration with Golden Guitar winner Kevin Bennett on his second single Think of Me, which debuted at #2 on iTunes.
Jake has played major festivals including the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Wingham Akoostic Festival, Lakeside Festival, and Country at the Beach, and supported artists including Diesel, Daryl Braithwaite, Rick Price, Casey Donovan, Taylor Henderson, Travis Collins and The Viper Creek Band. Drawing from influences like Old Dominion, Dan + Shay and Keith Urban, Jake has shaped himself into a formidable musician who embraces a modern country sound.
Raised in the tiny town of Coonamble in NSW, singer-songwriter Max Jackson released her critically acclaimed debut album, Life Of The Party in 2020. Max is particularly inspired by female writers who really have something to say. Her witty lyrics and “bare all” approach might, at times, remind listeners of her inspirations, Kacey Musgraves, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crowe and Dolly Parton.
Before releasing her own music, Max was happily the behind-the-scenes songwriter, honing her craft on multiple trips to Nashville and Los Angeles, writing with established International and Australian artists on their projects. Notably, she co-wrote Astronomical with Nashville pop artist Svrcina, which, to date has had just over 3.4 million YouTube views and was placed in the TV Series, Legacies.
The illustrious panel of judges include CMAA Chairman Dan Biddle; KIX Country National Content Director, Justin Thomson; the long-time manager of Troy Cassar-Daley, Roxanne Brown; Major Events Gold Coast Director, Mark Duckworth and the Pub Group’s Craig Power.
Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer John Pappas says, “Toyota Star Maker is always a highlight of the Toyota Country Music Festival, and we are proud to offer a substantial prize package that can give aspiring country music stars a real boost to their career. We would like to wish all the finalists the best of luck and look forward to celebrating the extraordinary young talent that we have in Australia, along with all country music fans, at the grand final concert.”
The Star Maker Grand Final is one of the biggest events of the annual Toyota Country Music Festival and it begins at 7pm on Tuesday, 19 April 2022, at Toyota Park, Tamworth.
For further information on the Toyota Star Maker competition visit https://starmaker.com.au/