A new generation of country stars will head to Tamworth in January to compete in Australia’s biggest country music talent search, with the top 10 announced today, in the 44th Toyota Star Maker.
This year there are five females and five males in the 2024 Toyota Star Maker top 10, with one returning for their third time. In alphabetical order they are:
Dakota East 30 Elwood Vic
Ethan Calway 25 Warragul Vic
Felicity Dowd 19 Bega NSW
Jake Whittaker 29 Stockleigh Qld
Jay Santilli 33 Officer South Vic
Jemma Beech 31 Singleton NSW
Jimbo Stokes 30 Scone NSW
Nathan Lamont 30 Wagga Wagga NSW
Piper Rodrigues 23 Brisbane Qld
Wade Forster 25 Winton Qld
Toyota Star Maker Coordinator Cheryl Brown says the Australian country music scene is ever-evolving and this year’s top 10 are a good example, offering a variety of country music styles.
“This year’s finalists are going to make it difficult for the judges, as they are a strong, determined and driven group.
“The competition is on, that’s for certain, and with such diversity as country rock, alt country, country pop, traditional and folk, it’s definitely going to be hard to choose one winner.”
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 43 years. The Star Maker alumni includes Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, Beccy Cole and James Blundell along with the latest stars including Kaylee Bell, who is enjoying Billboard success with her song Keith about 1990 winner Keith Urban, Blake O’Connor who’s relocated to Nashville and Max Jackson, newly signed to Stephen White Management and ABC Music, among them.
The top 10 will perform two songs each at the 2024 Star Maker Grand Final on the first weekend of the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth, in Toyota Park.
In 2024, Toyota Star Maker will welcome Wheelhouse Agency as a new strategic business partner. Wheelhouse is Australia’s leading country and Americana agency and is a joint venture between industry heavyweights Chugg Music, Select Music and artist manager, Dan Biddle. The team from Wheelhouse will handle live bookings for the Toyota Star Maker winner throughout the year, with the view to building long lasting relationships and success for the winner.
Agency partner and co-head, Dan Biddle said; “Wheelhouse Agency is proud to partner with Australia’s most prestigious and successful country music talent contest to help discover and nurture the careers of the next crop of country music stars. We look forward to working with Barry, Cheryl and the team from Tamworth Regional Council to enhance the incredible experience that the winner receives throughout their Star Maker year, and beyond.”
Corral Boots is proud to join the list of generous supporters of the 2024 Toyota Star Maker 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.
The grand final concert will feature a gala performance by the 2023 winner, Loren Ryan whose Star Maker reign has seen her perform far and wide including the Deni Ute Muster, Gympie Muster, Savannah In The Round and soon to set sail on Cruisin’ Country.
Loren said of her time as the winner, “I’ve had the absolute best time performing at festivals and events as this year’s Toyota Star Maker. It feels like I’ve finally been able to break through to the next level and I’m looking forward to keeping that momentum up. It’s exciting that we will have a new Star Maker soon and I wish all the Top 10 the best for the finals night.”
Sponsor Chris Watson Travel flew Loren to Nashville’s CMA Fest where she performed on the CMA Spotlight Stage and the Sounds Australia stage, as well as experiencing a number of songwriting sessions.
Loren’s Star Maker EP will be launched at her first ticketed show on Thursday, January 24 at 4:30pm in Moonshiners Honky Tonk Bar. The EP will feature Suddenly, Take Me Home, and Bounce Back, which was previously released and recorded prior to her Star Maker year.
Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer, Vin Naidoo, said Toyota is proud to support the talented musicians vying for the chance to create a name for themselves in the country music scene through the Toyota Star Maker Competition.
“We are excited to watch the Star Maker top ten finalists perform on stage in January, which is already an exciting opportunity in their career.”
“It is always a pleasure experiencing the vast array of talent during the competition and supporting the winner with a prize pack, to help fast-track them to becoming the next big country music star in Australia.”
“Congratulations to all the musicians who have been selected as finalists and I look forward to seeing your 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 21, 2024 at the city’s largest outdoor venue – Toyota Park.