Winton, Queensland’s Wade Forster has been crowned the 44th Toyota Star Maker, after an excellent showcase of emerging country talent at the 2024 Grand Final concert, held earlier tonight, as part of the 52nd Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth.

Thousands of festival-goers filled Toyota Park for the grand final concert, where the top ten played two songs each. The night was hosted by 2022 Toyota Star Maker Max Jackson.
Wade stole the show with two incredible performances of his songs Second Chance and Rodeo Romeo.

Born and raised in outback Queensland, Wade was raised on both a cowboy lifestyle and country music. In 2017, he left his hometown of Winton to pursue a career opportunity in refrigeration in Mount Isa. He bought his first guitar from Facebook for $50 and spent his free time learning how to play.

Wade plays at gigs and rodeos in and around Western Queensland, playing at Winton’s Way-Out West festival, before playing at the 2023 Savannah in The Round. With the demand online and listeners eagerly wanting more, Wade’s journey has only just begun. His passion for music and rodeo inspires his writing process and will continue to influence his continuation in both rodeo and the music industry.

Star Maker Coordinator and judge Cheryl Brown, says that the decision-making process is never easy for the judges, and tonight was no exception.

“Over the past couple of months, we’ve had the opportunity to watch each of the incredible finalists on their journey to the grand final, but after careful consideration, we felt Wade was most ready to take the next step,” says Ms Brown.

“Each year, the Toyota Star Maker competition provides a platform for emerging Australian country music artists, no matter the outcome of the grand final. While there can only be one winner, the nine grand finalists should be proud of their performances tonight, and their growth throughout the competition.
We look forward to seeing what’s in store for the remaining finalists and wish them all the best for the future.”

Toyota Star Maker Producer, Barry Harley, says, “Congratulations to each of our 2024 grand finalists, and of course, a very special congratulations to Wade who joins our incredible lineup of Toyota Star Maker winners.

Crowds at the grand final concert were treated to a performance by 2023 Toyota Star Maker Loren Ryan, who sang a selection of songs, that included some she released during her Star Maker year.

This year’s grand final saw the return of special guest and 2004 Toyota Star Maker, Travis Collins, who performed One of Them Nights and his latest single Chill. Travis has enjoyed a landmark year in 2023, with his ninth studio album, Any Less Anymore becoming the highest-charting Australian country album in over two years, peaking at #3 on the ARIA All-Genre Album chart and #1 on the ARIA Country Album chart.

Five Star Maker alumni, Travis Collins, Kaylee Bell, Brad Cox, Max Jackson, and Loren Ryan are nominated in the 52nd Toyota Golden Guitar Awards, with Brad Cox already receiving his first Golden Guitar for the Top Selling Album of the Year for his album Acres, ahead of the event to be held this Saturday, 27 January at TRECC.

“It was so special to have three previous Toyota Star Maker winners, who are also 2024 Golden Guitar nominees, take the stage for tonight’s grand final,” says Cheryl.
“The talent that we’ve seen come through Star Maker across its 44 years is a testament to its success.”

Presenting the award, Toyota Australia Senior Manager of Marketing Integration, Tim Stuckey said the lineup of finalists were incredibly talented and demonstrates the quality of up-and-coming country music talent in the industry.

“On behalf of Toyota Australia, I would like to congratulate Wade on becoming the 2024 Toyota Star Maker.”

“Wade was up against some fierce competition in this year’s Grand Final, but ultimately was a well-deserved winner this evening.

“We hope the comprehensive prize pack Wade takes home will help accelerate his music career this year and we wish him all the best for the future.”

As the 2024 Toyota Star Maker winner, Wade will win a prize pack worth over $100,000, including:
•Use of the title 2024 Toyota Star Maker;
•12 month’s use of a brand new, fully-serviced Toyota motor vehicle;
•A fuel card for the length of reign;
•Return air flight for one, including 4-nights’ accommodation to Nashville for the CMA Festival in June 2024 courtesy of Chris Watson Travel; *all other costs are the responsibility of the winner;
•Additional 4-nights’ home-stay accommodation from the Sister City of Nashville;
•Two tickets to four nightly concerts at the CMA Fest Nashville from the Country Music Association of Nashville;
•Performance opportunity at CMA Fest Nashville;
•WIN television media package valued at $5000
•A handmade Maton 808 style custom instrument with Satin Burst and Block inlays valued at RRP $3699;
•A Fender guitar, VINTERA ® II ’60S TELECASTER®, Sonic Blue valued at $1899;
•Products from Jands Australia including 1 x Shure Super55 Classic Birdcage Microphone, 1 x AONIC 50 Noise Cancelling Headphones GEN2 (Black) and 1 x Shure Merch Pack valued at $1200;
•A pair of Corral Boots hand made in Mexico valued at $500
•CMT music video placement;
•Hair and make-up styling by Plush Hair Designs & Make-up of Tamworth for photographic portfolio;
•A recording session with Australia’s top musicians and producer;
•Recording, distribution and promotion of a four-track EP;
•Production of two professional video clips by an award-winning director;
•Photographic portfolio with Andrew Pearson Photography Tamworth;
•12 months media promotion in Australia’s only country music magazine Country Music Capital News and the Official Guide valued at $12000;
•12 months representation by Wheelhouse Agency;
•12 months membership to the Country Music Association of Australia;
•Gift from Lindsay Waddington Music;
•Full colour promotional material from Star Maker;
•Benefit from the organiser’s 40 years of industry knowledge through personal, one-on-one introductions to relevant contacts;
•Guidance and support;
•Media promotion;
•A minimum of three performances for Toyota as part of sponsorship
•Guaranteed paid performances at a designated list of festivals and events.

The prize list continues to grow with the WIN Television Network once again very proud to be associated with Toyota Star Maker.

Station and Sales Manager, WIN Television Tamworth, Damian Sheridan said; “WIN Television would like to add to the already incredible prize package for the 2024 Star Maker winner with a television advertising campaign valued at $5,000.

“We hope this will further assist the winner to promote themselves, their music and launch their country music career.

Corral Boots join the list of generous supporters of the competition by gifting the winner with a pair of the world’s finest western boots. Corral Boots are works of art, meticulously handcrafted in Leon Mexico, using premium materials. Now available nationwide, Corral Australia is committed to supporting young Australians on their country music journey.

“Corral Australia is committed to supporting young Australians on their country music journey,” says Allan King of Corral Australia.
The 2024 Top 10 Star Maker Finalists were:

Felicity Dowd 19 – Bega, NSW
Jake Whittaker 29 – Stockleigh, QLD
Jemma Beech 31 – Singleton, NSW
Jay Santilli 33 -Officer South, VIC
Nathan Lamont 30 – Wagga Wagga,NSW
Dakota East 30 – Elwood, VIC
Ethan Calway 25 -Warragul, QLD
Piper Rodrigues 23 – Hendra (Brisbane), QLD
Jimbo Stokes 30 – Scone, NSW
Wade Forster 25 – Winton, QLD

The panel of judges for the 2024 Competition included:
•Dan Biddle – Artist Manager
•Justin Thomson – National Content Director of the KIX Country Network
•Katie Krollig – Booking Agent at Wheelhouse Agency
•Natalie Waller – Head of ABC Music, ARIA Board Chairperson and Board Director of CMA Nashville
•Phil Barton – International songwriter
•Cheryl Brown – Editor of Country Music Capital News and Coordinator of Star Maker

Tonight’s grand final performances were made possible by musical director Sam Hawksley, and band members Rod Motbey on guitar, Glenn Wilson on drums, Ian Lees on bass, and Clare O’Meara on keys and Fiddle.