Toyota Star Maker 2020 Grand Finalists
Ten of Australia's top emerging country music artists will compete to become the 41st 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.
Meet your 2020 Top Ten
Birthplace: Gold Coast Qld
Hometown: Gold Coast Qld
Current Hometown: Gold Coast Qld
Gold Coast singer-songwriter Chloe Styler, 22, was a grand finalist in the 2018 Toyota Star Maker, so is no stranger to the process. From age five, when Chloe attended her first live concert with her parents, she fell in love with music, drawing her influences from Fleetwood Mac, Kacey Musgraves and Joni Mitchell. At six took piano lessons followed by singing lessons at seven, saxophone at 10 and taught herself guitar at 13. She recorded her debut, self-titled EP in 2017, having written or co-written all six tracks. Since the 2018 grand final, Chloe has continued to hone her craft. Her song, co-written with Fanny Lumsden and produced by Matt Fell, When Your Light Burns, was awarded the TSA 2019 Alternative Country Song of the Year. She’s performed at the 2019 Groundwater Festival, Gympie Muster and Deni Ute Muster and supported Lee Kernaghan, James Blundell and Amber Lawrence. Her new single, Patient Heart, was released in October 2019 through ABC/Universal Music.
Birthplace: Oberon, NSW
Hometown: Oberon, NSW
Current Hometown: Orange, NSW
Born and raised in rural Oberon, Central West NSW, Clancy Pye grew up surrounded by country music. At age six, she picked up the guitar and proceeded to learn every instrument in the house. With major influences being Kasey Chambers, The Dixie Chicks, Cold Chisel and Shania Twain, Clancy developed a love for music, performing and songwriting. By 12, she was playing solo and with bands in Central Western venues. In recent years, Clancy has played guitar, mandolin and provided backing vocals for a number of country artists including Tania Kernaghan, Travis Collins, Adam Harvey, Mickey Pye, Chelsea Basham and Kaylee Bell. She’s travelled widely and performed on Australian country’s biggest stages including CMC Rocks, the Gympie Muster, Tamworth Country Music Festival, Sydney Country Music Festival and Caboolture’s Urban Country Music Festival. She won the 2015 Aristocrat Country Entertainer of the Year and was a grand finalist at the 2016 Gympie Muster Maton Talent Search. Her debut EP is self-written.
Birthplace: Toowoomba, Qld
Hometown: Cecil Plains, Qld
Current Hometown: Dalby, Qld
Hailing from the Darling Downs region of Queensland, El Cosgrove wrote her first songs about mustering cattle and working on her family farm. She was eight at the time. Since then she’s travelled widely, to the Rocky Mountains and cattle ranches of Alberta, Canada and numerous cattle stations across Queensland and the Northern Territory. Continuing to write songs, El describes herself as an alt-country artist with a unique take on life. Working alongside Golden Guitar-winning producer Matt Fell, she released her debut EP, Guitars and Cigars in 2017. Some career highlights include supporting Golden Guitar winners Luke O’Shea, Tom Curtain and 2018 Toyota Star Maker Brad Cox, Seleen McAlister and Liam Brew. She entertained the Ladies of Canadian Pro Rodeo Luncheon in Edmonton during the Canadian Finals Rodeo. As a graduate of the CMAA Academy of Country Music, El has enjoyed the mentorship of Catherine Britt, Lyn Bowtell, Karl Broadie, The Bushwackers, Amber Lawrence, Aleyce Simmonds and Kasey Chambers. El recently recorded an EP with Jordan Power (Kasey Chambers, Karin Page) in a mountain studio near Bangalow with Honey released as the first single.
Birthplace: Hamilton, NZ
Hometown: Hamilton, NZ
Current Hometown: Mount Cotton, Qld
Hannah May is an emerging country-pop singer and songwriter originally from New Zealand, now residing in Brisbane, QLD. She came to national attention in New Zealand as a top 10 finalist in NZ X-Factor, as one half of the duo, Mae Valley, which was signed to Sony Music. They released their single, Brightside, which reached #1 on the Australian country charts, followed by two more singles, Glitter and Turns Out. Mae Valley released their debut self-titled EP, which has accumulated more than one million streams. Mae Valley tour New Zealand’s North Island and in 2017, opened for American country-pop superstar Kelsea Ballerini for her iHeart Radio show at the Tuning Fork, Auckland. They also opened for country music icons Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, playing before 10,000 people at Westpac Stadium, in Wellington. In 2018 after breaking away from Mae Valley, Hannah May went on to release her self-written debut country-pop single, Finally, produced by one of New Zealand’s finest, Nic Manders.
Birthplace: Wee Waa, NSW
Hometown: Tamworth, NSW
Current Hometown: Tamworth, NSW
Born in the small north-western NSW town of Wee Waa, Jarred moved to Tamworth with his family when he was six months old. In his early teens at high school, Jarred discovered his love for music, singing and playing drums, forming his first band at 16. Playing at school performances and charity events saw Jarred gravitate to guitar and his skill for songwriting became apparent. Jarred’s interest in music took a country turn – and his songwriting soared. His first studio release reached #1 on the All Australian Top 20 Country charts and he was chosen as the first recipient of the John Minson Scholarship for the CMAA Senior Academy of Country Music. Learning from some of the best – Lyn Bowtell, Amber Lawrence, Keven Bennett, Ashleigh Dallas, Lachlan Bryan and Matt Scullion – he soaked it all in. He’s played on the Maton Showcase and at festivals including Tamworth, Yeppoon, Ariah Park BnS, Monkerai BnS and on the Wolfe Brothers’ Country Heart tour.
Birthplace: Adelaide, SA
Hometown: McLaren Vale, SA
Current Hometown: McLaren Vale, SA
Hailing from the South Australian wine region of McLaren Vale, 21-year-old singer-songwriter Juliet was a grand finalist in the 2019 Toyota Star Maker. She first discovered country music through watching Disney program, Hannah Montana as an 11-year-old. She taught herself guitar, a gift from her parents. Like many young country artists her age, Taylor Swift pulled her into the genre, which guided Juliet to begin crafting songs about her experiences as a teenager. She was inspired by the songs of Patsy Cline, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Jason Isbell. She recorded her debut, self-titled EP with Simon Johnson at Hillbilly Hut, gaining national airplay for her songs. She followed up her Star Maker grand final opportunity by releasing her latest single, Blame It On The Song, produced by multi-award-winning Matt Fell at Sydney’s LoveHz Studios. Juliet will perform on Live and Loud in Tamworth 2020, along with a songwriters’ round at Southgate Inn, alongside Missy Lancaster, Caitlyn Shadbolt and Melanie Dyer. A true country girl, she doesn’t write pop songs decorated in country feels.
Birthplace: Toowoomba, Qld
Hometown: Sunshine Coast, Qld
Current Hometown: Sippy Downs (Sunshine Coast), Qld
Queensland-born songstress Leigha Moore backs up for her second consecutive year as a Toyota Star Maker grand finalist. Following her 2019 performance, she was invited by Travis Collins to perform at Country at the Beach, at Rainbow Beach, Qld. She released her debut single, See You Around, in May, written by Carly Pearce. Leigha will perform at the Live and Loud concert in Tamworth 2020, alongside acts like, Caitlyn Shadbolt and Kaylens Rain. Ain’t Your Girl No More, written by Kelsea Ballerini, is the second single and title track from her EP. During TCMF2020, Leigha will be the support act for Melanie Dyer at her Family Hotel concert. Her four-track EP will debut on January 17. It’s been a dream of Leigha’s to win Toyota Star Maker since she saw Kaylee Bell take out the 2013 title. Leigha is living for that magic moment on the Toyota Park stage when she gets her second shot at the biggest quest of them all.
Birthplace: Townsville, Qld
Hometown: Townsville, Qld
Current Hometown:Townsville, Qld
Since the release of her debut single, Drowning My Sorrows, in May last year, Townsville singer-songwriter Sammy White has been in full tilt. Within 24 hours, it headed straight up the iTunes Country Charts to #5! Since then, she’s appeared at festivals, rodeos and even found time for a week-long songwriting trip to Nashville in amongst it. Sammy returned to Australia and hit the ground running, arranging a tour with longtime friend Jack McDougall to take their songs on the road. The two musicians travelled from Bundaberg to Atherton over two weeks, performing seven successful songwriter-in-the-round shows. Sammy has recently relocated to Newcastle, NSW and is now making preparations for Tamworth 2020 in and around her role as a private vocal and guitar coach. As a child she was shy and reserved, but strangely enough, found her true calling on stage. Now Sammy lives for those moments when the audience sings her songs back at her.
Birthplace: Kapunda, SA
Hometown: Clare Valley, SA
Current Hometown: Adelaide, SA
Twenty-year-old Taylor Pfeiffer was a Toyota Star Maker Grand Finalist in 2018. She is an Americana singer, songwriter, banjoist, and guitarist. She continually strives for an eclectic mix of soulful vocals, melodic banjo, and just the right amount of twang in her guitar. Taylor’s intuitive music style has gained the attention of numerous artists, including American hip-hop artist, Post Malone, Lee Kernaghan, Kasey Chambers, Troy Cassar-Daley, Beccy Cole, and 15-time Grammy Award winner, Béla Fleck. With new music on the way, it’s no doubt the young songstress will add to her achievements, including airplay on Triple J Roots N All, an appearance on Nashville’s Music City Roots aired nationally in the US, The Voice Blind Auditions, ABC’s Spicks & Specks, spots on AmericanaFest in Nashville, and two attendances at Béla Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Camp in North Carolina. Taylor’s love for the banjo began as a seven-year-old, watching Skippy the Bush Kangaroo on TV. Taylor is proudly sponsored by Australian company Bellbird Banjos and USA firm, D’Addario Strings.
Birthplace: Redcliffe, Qld
Hometown: Mackay, Qld
Current Hometown: Mackay, Qld
Age: 20 (21 in January, 2020)
As an only child, Zoey was raised on the music of her parents’ generation as they travelled Australia for the first few years of her life in a caravan. These influences, ranging from Fleetwood Mac to The Eagles, and more recently from Angus and Julia Stone to Kasey Chambers, have shaped the sound of Zoey’s debut EP, Gypsy Girl. She picked up a guitar at 13, singing at local country music festivals. By age 14, she was travelling the talent quest circuit, gaining exposure and experience on stage. Her love for songwriting began when she was chosen to participate in the Songmakers’ program at her school. Empowered by songwriting, Zoey attended both the junior (2016) and senior (2017) CMAA Academy of Country Music and The DAG Songwriters’ Retreat (2017). The plucky songwriter has just finished renovating a 1978 Millard caravan, touring Queensland and NSW with Catherine Britt and the Cold Cold Hearts. Catherine produced Zoey’s debut EP, released in September 2018.