Who Will Be Australia’s Newest Country Star?
A new generation of country stars will head to Tamworth in January to compete in Australia’s largest country music talent search, with the top 10 announced in the 43rd Toyota Star Maker.
The 2023 Toyota Star Maker top 10, in alphabetical order, are:
Toyota Star Maker Coordinator, Cheryl Brown says there’s a shift in the overall country music scene with a refreshing new wave of exciting artists about.
“Every decade or so, we see a new line-up of highly professional artists hit the scene and we seem to have arrived at that place once again,” Brown says. “Artists had time to practise a lot during the past few years, making the most of enforced downtime. They’ve now come out of hibernation, confident, polished and ready to entertain. Our entries this year seem to reflect this, which has made it rather difficult to choose just 10 grand finalists.”
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Toyota Star Maker is the nation’s longest running and most respected country music competition. More than 500 artists have performed as finalists over the past 42 years. The Star Maker alumni includes Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, Beccy Cole and James Blundell along with the latest stars to successfully use the launchpad – Kaylee Bell, Brad Cox, Blake O’Connor and Max Jackson among them.
The top 10 will perform two songs each at the 2023 Star Maker Grand Final on the first weekend of the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth, in Toyota Park.
Judges are Dan Biddle, Chugg Music Country special projects manager; Justin Thomson, KIX Country program director and The Pub Group’s Craig Power, together with Star Maker manager Cheryl Brown and publicist Tom Inglis.
The grand final concert will feature a gala performance by the 2022 winner, Max Jackson, whose Star Maker reign began in April at the postponed festival.
Jackson said her time as Toyota Star Maker had been nothing short of a dream come true, topped off with a nomination in the ‘New Talent of the Year’ category at the 2023 Golden Guitar Awards.
“The support, guidance, opportunities and experiences I have had over the past year since becoming a finalist, then winner, only happen once in a lifetime,” says Jackson. “I am so excited to be nominated for my first Golden Guitar and excited also for the 2023 winner, because I know that they too are about to have their life changed, just as mine did.”
Jackson has racked up the kilometres in her Toyota to perform at festivals including at Gympie, Groundwater, Savannah In The Round and Cruisin’ Country. Sponsor Chris Watson Travel flew Jackson to Nashville’s CMA Fest where she performed and experienced a number of songwriting sessions.
Her Star Maker EP will be launched at her first ticketed show on Wednesday, January 18 at 3pm in Moonshiners Honky Tonk Bar. It will feature Runnin’, which was a country radio smash with over three million radio impacts, and her new single Stratosphere.
Kaylee Bell returns to the Star Maker stage as special guest 10 years since winning the competition in 2013. Most recently, Bell has released music with US superstar Lindsay Ell, performed her song Keith she wrote about Keith Urban in front of coaches Guy Sebastian, Jess Mauboy, Urban, and Rita Ora, in The Voice Australia.
With more than 40 million Spotify streams, Bell is the Most Streamed Artist for Australasia with her hit single about her fellow Star Maker, Urban, being the most streamed country song by an Australian artist in 2022. Bell will play a show at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre with Same Songs collaborator James Johnston as part of the festival.
Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer, Vin Naidoo said Toyota congratulates the 10 Toyota Star Maker finalists and looks forward to each talented musician having the opportunity to perform at the grand final concert in January.
“The Toyota Star Maker is widely known as a platform for country music artists looking to take the next step in their career, and we are proud to support the winner with an extensive prize package that will help fast-track them in hopefully becoming the next country music star both in Australia and internationally. We look forward to celebrating the remarkable young country musicians and wish all the finalists the best of luck with their performances at the grand final concert.”
The Toyota Star Maker Grand Final is one of the biggest events of the annual Toyota Country Music Festival. It all begins at 7pm on Sunday, January 15, 2023, at the city’s largest outdoor venue – Toyota Park. For further information on Toyota Star Maker visit starmaker.com.au