Toyota Star maker 2018 Grand Finalists
Ten of Australia's top emerging country music artists will compete to become the 39th Toyota Star Maker winner at the Toyota Star Maker Grand Final, the main event on the first Sunday of the iconic Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth.
The 10 Grand Finalists are:
Jindabyne, NSW, Snowy Mountains
Sydney singer-songwriter Brad Cox is ready to grab the Star Maker opportunity and run with it in both hands.
A month-long songwriting trip to Nashville in 2015 inspired the young man on his journey to Golden Guitar-winning producer Matt Fell’s Love Hz Studio to record his debut album.
The first single, Too Drunk to Drive, debuted at #2 on the iTunes country chart.
To promote singles from the disc, the 2012 NSW Talent Development Project graduate booked and arranged his own promotional tours, taking his music to the masses across the northern and southern parts of Australia.
Cassidy Rae Gaiter
Flagstaff Hill, SA
No stranger to the Toyota Star Maker stage, 2017 grand finalist Cassidy Rae returns in 2018 to pursue her destiny.
The 22-year-old from Flagstaff, South Australia was raised on country music into a musical family with a mum who sang – didn’t everybody’s mum do that?
Thrust into the intimidating world of an Adelaide private school during adolescence, Cassidy struggled to find a friend who shared her passion for country music – and no encouragement from teachers.
Detouring into musical theatre, she gained her Bachelor of Music, and graduated in 2015.
Cassidy then took a giant leap of faith towards making her dream a reality and travelled to America to work in a summer camp in San Francisco, eventually making her way to Nashville, Tennessee.
It was here she recorded her debut EP, Shake It, Don’t Fake It.
From Perth to Boston, Nashville to Tamworth, the past few years have been quite a journey for West Australian singer-songwriter Emily Joy. Her debut single, Barricade shot to #2 on the iTunes charts and is the first track lifted from her self-titled, Perth-to-Nashville-recorded EP.
Channelling the storytelling and vocal hooks of Taylor Swift and Shania Twain, her music has been described as a combination of these with a modern twist.
Winning Emerging Artist of the Year at the WA Country Music Awards made a great start to 2017, just ahead of her second single release, Karma’s Gonna Catch Me, a fun, cheeky song that saw radio chart action as well as airtime for the accompanying Josh Favaloro-produced clip.
Born in Mount Isa, Queensland, now Brisbane-based singer-songwriter Hayley Wilson has had some twists and turns on her way to the Toyota Star Maker grand finals.
A long and winding road led Hayley to record her debut album, Further Than Forever.
This album of 10 songs, which features Aleyce Simmonds and Luke O’Shea amidst its collaborators, is a document of lessons learned about life and love, announcing the arrival of an artist with a timeless approach to country music.
The late Karl Broadie mentored Hayley until his untimely passing in April 2016. Accomplished producer Glen Hannah saw the album through to completion.
Click here to listen
He’s a virtual new singer on the block in his hometown of Mackay, Queensland but Heath Milner is a fast learner.
In the past three years since he began singing, Heath has sung the national anthem at the PBR in Mackay, written songs with a bunch of Nashville writers and performed on a blind audition in season six of The Voice.
In this life-changing moment, Boy George told Heath he belonged in Nashville, so he generously offered Heath a return ticket to Music City USA.
A graduate of both the junior and senior CMAA Academy of Country Music, Heath was the Judges’ Choice at the Gympie Music Muster 2017 Emerging Artist Showcase.
Gold Coast, Qld
As a five-year-old kid, Gold Coast-born Chloe Styler was taken to a Lee Kernaghan show. Fast forward 15 years down the track – and Chloe has been given the opportunity to open for the Outback Club founder!
From that time to this, Chloe has been working away at her craft, being taught piano, singing, saxophone and then picking up the guitar and finding her own sound.
Chloe’s is a graduate of both the junior and senior CMAA Academy of Country Music and released her debut EP, recorded at Simon Johnson’s Hillbilly Hut, last January.
Jake Sinclair’s passion for music ignited the moment his six-year-old hands touched a guitar for the first time. Eight years later he performed in his first talent quest.
He was a graduate of Tamworth Camerata 2005, the predecessor to the Junior CMAA Country Music Academy, and began a career backing and playing for artists such as Travis Collins, Jayne Denham, Luke Austen and Travis Sinclair.
Raised on a mix of traditional and modern country music, his greatest influences were George Strait, Merle Haggard and Slim Dusty.
Jake is now poised to move out of the backline and into the spotlight with the release of his debut EP, The Vibetone Sessions, produced by Benjy Pocock.
Hermit Park, Qld
Tammy Moxon has been singing on stage since she was five, performing with her dad at festivals all over the country.
She progressed through the ranks of talent quests, adding several trophies to her collection.
Career highlights, so far, have been many for the now 27-year-old artist.
Representing Australia in the Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year awards and coming home with runner-up and most promising artist trophies, was close to the top of the list.
She recently signed a publishing deal with Kobalt Music Publishing Australia and commenced work on her second album, a follow-up to Fall In Time, recorded with Roger Corbett at The Valley Studios.
During the week she teaches primary school students the three Rs – and of a weekend 24-year-old Tanya Cornish is a country music star!
With her warm, pure vocals Tanya has come to the attention of several country music industry key players – having been invited to perform on Bill Chambers’ shows at The Pub as well as other artists such as The Bushwackers, Kevin Bennett and Aleyce Simmonds.
She won the 2015 Trans-Tasman Entertainer of The Year on Norfolk Island.
Tanya is a graduate of the 2016 CMAA Academy of Country Music and has recently released her debut EP.
Click here to listen
If you’ll pardon the pun, multi-instrumentalist Taylor Pfeiffer has more than one string to her bow.
The singer, songwriter, banjoist and self-taught yodeller can play just about anything that moves – and she’s just turned 18!
Most recently Taylor was invited to be part of the Aussie Road Crew with Beccy Cole and Libby O’Donovan, performing two shows in October on the South Australian leg of the tour.Taylor has been invited to join Beccy’s Sisters of Twang band for the two Tamworth shows in Blazes.
Taylor has appeared at all the major festivals in recent years, and last January was thrilled to perform the national anthem at Lee Kernaghan’s Boys From The Bush 25th Anniversary Australia Day concert at TRECC.