Friday, 17 February 2017

45th CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia

CMAA 2017

CountryRoutesBlog take a look at the 2017 CMAA Awards and the main events of The Tamworth Country Music Festival, it includes:
CMAA 2017 show report, 2017 CMAA Red Carpet, Photo and Gallery Links, 2017 CMAA Winners and Nominee listing. Watch the whole Awards Show.

In Brief:
45th Country Music Awards of Australia Winners

Album of the Year:
 THINGS I CARRY AROUND, Troy Cassar-Daley. Producer: Troy Cassar-Daley.
Alternative Country Album of the Year:
 BENNETT BOWTELL & URQUHART. Producer: Glen Hannah.
Male Artist of the Year:
 Travis Collins, Hard Light.
Female Artist of the Year:
 Sara Storer, SILOS.
Country Music Capital News Group or Duo of the Year:
 Bennett Bowtell & Urquhart.

Regional Australia Bank Vocal Collaboration of the Year:
 F U Cancer, Catherine Britt with Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Lyn Bowtell, Josh Pyke, Wes Carr, and Wendy Matthews.
Bush Ballad of the Year:
 Amazing Night, Sara Storer. Songwriter: Sara Storer.
Toyota Heritage Song of the Year:
 The Old Man’s Shed, Luke O'Shea. Songwriters: Luke O'Shea & John Krsulja.

Instrumental of the Year:
 Song for Manaia, Stuie French.
Bluegrass Recording of the Year:
 Another Weary Mile, Kristy Cox.
Qantaslink New Talent of the Year:
 Fanny Lumsden, Land Of Gold.
APRA AMCOS Song of the Year:
 Call Me Crazy, Travis Collins. Songwriters: Travis Collins & Damien Leith.
CMC Video Clip of the Year:
 The Truth Walks Slowly (in the Countryside), O'Shea. Director: Mark O'Shea

CMAA 2017 Report

The 2017 Country Music Awards of Australia - Toyota Golden Guitars capped off an incredible year for Australian country music with the perfect combination of traditional, alternative, and contemporary country music and plenty of ‘golden’ moments at the Tamworth Region Entertainment and Conference Centre on Saturday 28 January 2017.

The night saw the country music industry and fans celebrate the artists and the songs that have left their mark on them throughout the past 12 months and looked forward to some of the magnificent music set to hit the charts in 2017.

It was Travis Collins’ night, bagging three awards, who led the finalist’s field from his six nominations with his album HARD LIGHT.
This is the first-time Travis has won a Golden Guitar Award. Travis beat some tough competition for Male Artist Of The Year, APRA AMCOS Song Of The Year (“Call Me Crazy”), and Single Of The Year (“Just Another Girl”).

TAMWORTH, JANUARY 28: Travis Collins poses for a photograph after winning the three Golden Guitar Awards including 'Male Artist of the Year' on January 28, 2017 in Tamworth, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images for TCMF)

Coming of the back of her success at the 2016 ARIA Awards (SILOS; Best Country Album), Sara Storer collected two Golden Guitars from her six nominations bringing her career Golden Guitar Award tally to 21. Sara picked up Awards for Female Artist of The Year and Bush Ballad Of The Year (Amazing Night).
The much-loved country music singer songwriter was also inducted to the 2017 Galaxy of Stars in Tamworth. The announcement was made on the Fanzone Stage in the heart of the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth. Storer is well known for her ability to capture the essence of Australian life, its characters and distinctive landscape. Described by John Williamson as having a “unique way of seeing and expressing her observations of love and life in the bush. So she is a songwriter that will be remembered beyond her lifetime.”

Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart also took home two Awards with their self-titled album Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart including Alternative Country Album of The Year and COUNTRY MUSIC CAPITAL NEWS Group Or Duo Of The Year.

Catherine Britt with Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Lyn Bowtell, Josh Pyke, Wes Carr and Wendy Matthews took home the REGIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK Vocal Collaboration Of The Year with the song “F U Cancer”.

Qantaslink New Talent Of The Year went to Fanny Lumsden while Luke O’Shea with his song the “Old Mans Shed” won Toyota Heritage Song Of The Year.
Luke O'Shea now has a Golden Guitar for each day of the week. O'Shea added to his Golden Guitar this was his fourth win the category.
“I am absolutely chuffed with the win – it was a magic moment,” he said. “I was absolutely stoked to share that with such a great bloke, Johnny Krsulja.” The singer-songwriter said the reaction to the song had transcended what the two mates had set out to write… Read More

Instrumental Of The Year went to Stuie French (Song for Manaia), and Kristy Cox added to her Golden Guitar Awards with another win for Bluegrass Recording Of The Year (“Another Weary Mile”) from her album 'Part Of Me' on Pisgah Ridge Records.

The award tops off what was a huge 2016 for Kristy, who toured extensively throughout Europe, USA and Australia, as well as receiving shortlist nominations in the International Bluegrass Music Awards in the USA for Emerging Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year alongside the likes of Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent. Kristy went to the top of the US Bluegrass Radio charts with her song “Little White Whiskey Lies” which climbed to #2 and with the album climbing to #8 on the USA Bluegrass Junction album chart. This is Kristy's second Golden Guitar for the category with her last album LIVING FOR THE MOMENT picking up the Inaugural Bluegrass Recording of the Year in 2015, for One Heartbreak Away, an award which is very close to Kristy's heart. 
She shared this message with her fans: "I just want to THANK EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU!! For all of your support. It has been a big few years full of great music. I could not do this without the support of my fellow artists, the radio presenters, the industry folks, the agents, the festivals and most of all the fans."
Kristy has been named a nominee for three CMC Music Awards later this year including Female Artist of the Year, Australian Artist of the Year and Australian Video of the Year for her track Another Weary Mile. These awards are the only fan voted awards in Australia.. 

CMC Video Clip Of The Year went to O’Shea for “The Truth Walks Slowly” (In the Countryside) which is dedicated to Australian farmer's rights advocate, George Bender and his fight to defend his land from coal seam gas mining. The song was co-written and performed with Rob Hirst from Midnight Oil.

The coveted Album Of The Year Award winner was none other than Tamworth Festival Ambassador, Troy Cassar- Daley.
THINGS I CARRY AROUND (Liberation Music) was released on Sept 2, 2016 (18 Tracks; Amazon UK - UK iTunes -
A hard-working, fun-loving and prodigiously talented youngster, Troy grew into the role of country music superstar with charm and humility - and along the way met the woman who stole his heart. While Troy's path to success wasn't always smooth, his irrepressible nature and determination ensured what others might have seen as obstacles didn't slow him down. Instead, they made him who he is today. With a dry wit and generous heart, in 'Things I Carry Around' Troy Cassar-Daley at last told the story his fans have been waiting to hear. His own.

Troy Cassar-Daley was also elevated to the Australasian Country Music Roll of Renown on the night. Country music legend Joy McKean presented Troy with the honour saying he had captured the hearts of Australians with his wonderful, engaging personality, his dedication to Australia and its people and his formidable skills as a writer and performer.
About: Troy Cassar-Daley
Born Surry Hills, Sydney, May 18, 1969 Always a country boy at heart, Troy grew up in Grafton, NSW, where he developed a close connection with his land and people. At 11, already a budding guitarist, Troy was inspired when he visited the Tamworth Festival becoming a regular busker there. By 16, his band Little Eagle was touring the North Coast.
In 1990, he was a finalist in Star Maker. He travelled the outback with the Brian Young Show, moving to Tamworth in 1991, before joining the Blue Heeler band. Sony Music released his single Dream Out Loud in 1994. In 1995, Beyond The Dancing won ARIA Country Album and in 1996 Troy won his first of many Golden Guitars. A talented singer, musician, songwriter and storyteller, his lyrics often reflect a unique understanding of country Australia and its cultural heritage. With his engaging personality, he has become one of our nation’s most loved and respected entertainers with countless accolades and awards to his name. Believing profoundly in community and family, Troy truly embodies the spirit of Australian country music.
In his newsletter, Troy Cassar-Daley shared: 
WOW -- what a Tamworth it was!!  The Roll of Renown, Album of the Year, performing a sell-out show and playing the Golden Guitar Awards with Laurel, and jumping up with friends -- it was all simply fantastic and quite overwhelming... Being inducted into the Roll of Renown is possibly one of the proudest moments of my career. 

I stood by that rock as an 11-year old kid reading all about the careers of my heroes on the plaques that are proudly embedded into that granite boulder and now at 47, my name is there too.

 It overwhelms and at the same time fills me with pride to be there with Slim Dusty, his wife Joy McKean, Jimmy Little and Brian Young. Performing the title track from the Things I Carry Around album with Laurel was an absolute highlight for me!
Speaking of the Things That Carry Around album... winning the Golden Guitar for Album of the Year was just as big a surprise and reminds me that people do love raw emotion-filled albums as much as I do. I’m so proud of it, and can’t wait to play some new music on the road this year. I will take this Golden Guitar out on the road with me to remind myself everyday how important our industry is to me and to our many friends who support us through thick and thin.

CMAA 2017 Performances: 
The 2017 Country Music Awards of Australia Show
Held at the Tamworth Region Entertainment and Conference Centre on Saturday 28 January 2017, for the second year running fans who couldn’t get to Tamworth could watch the action LIVE via the stream and for the first time ever LIVE on the ABC Landline Facebook.

Hosted by multi- Golden Guitar Award winners, Adam Harvey and Felicity Urquhart the Country Music Awards Australia – Toyota Golden Guitars Awards celebrated the best of Australian country music in 2016 and take a look at some of the new music to hit the charts in 2017.
Harvey with an impressive eight Awards to his name, has sold over half a million albums and Urquhart with four Awards is host of long-standing national country music radio show Saturday Night Country.  In addition to her hosting duties, Urquhart also performed on the night alongside Kevin Bennett and Lyn Bowtell as Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart.  The trio were nominated for five awards in total including Alternative Country Album of The Year, Country Music Capital News Group Or Duo Of The Year, Toyota Hertiage Song Of The Year (Goulburn Valley Woman), Bluegrass Recording Of The Year song, (I Hear Them All) and APRA AMCOS Song Of The Year (Goulburn Valley Woman).

Presenters included: Adam Brand, Adam Harvey, Aleyce Simmonds, Amber Lawrence, Ashleigh Dallas, Catherine Britt, Chad Morgan, Christie Lamb, Colin Buchanan, Doyle & Debbie, Evelyn Bury, Graeme Connors, Joy McKean, Karin Page, Kirsty Lee Akers, Lee Kernaghan, Luke O’Shea, Max Ellis, Pete Denahy, Reg Poole, Tania Kernaghan, The McClymonts and special guest presenter, Eurovision finalist Dami Im.

The night kicked off with red carpet performances by 2017 Toyota Star Maker winner Rachel Fahim, 2010 and 2011 Toyota Star Maker winners Luke Austen (former two-times Golden Guitar winner) and Luke Dickens (also former Australian Idol Runner Up) and 2009 Toyota Star Maker winner Liam Brew.
Inside the country music industry and fans were welcomed by Mickey Pye’s instrumental Buckle Up before The McClymonts took the stage for their performance of their hit single “House”.

The night was all about celebrating the best of Australian country music in 2016 while taking a look at some of the new music to hit the charts in 2017 including none other than recently named Festival Party Ambassador Adam Brand’s new hit Get On Your Feet – which had fans doing just that.

Luke O’Shea captivated the crowd with his stunning performance of The Old Man’s Shed followed by Kristy Cox with her Golden Guitar Award winning track “Another Weary Mile”.

Male Artist of The Year Travis Collins (Just Another Girl) and Female Artist Of The Year Sara Storer (Amazing Night) both performed before Kasey Chambers and Bernard Fanning took the stage with their song “Sooner or Later”.

The show also featured performances by Qantaslink New Talent Of The Year contenders: The Weeping Willows (River of Gold); Michael Waugh (Heyfield Girl), Fanny Lumsden (Land of Gold), Caitlyn Shadbolt (Running in Circles) and Justin Standley (Till the Buzzer Goes Off).

Other performers on the night included Alternative Country Album Of The Year and Country Music Capital News Group Or Duo Of The Year Award winners Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart (I Hear Them All); bush balladeers Anne Kirkpatrick and Jeff Brown who performed “Orchid Street”, The Wolfe Brothers with “Throw Em Back”, Kasey Chambers with “Ain’t No Little Girl” (whose album had just gone to #1 on the ARIA all genres Album Chart), Doyle and Debbie (“Whine, Whine, Twang,Twang”) and Troy Cassar-Daley (“Things I Carry Around”).
Lee Kernaghan closed the show with “The Outback Club” reunion.

The CMAA 2017 Awards House band:
Brendan Radford (Musical Director & Acoustic Guitar), Mitch Farmer (Drums), Michel Rose (Pedal Steel Guitar/Mandolin ), Camille Te Nahu (backing harmony vocals; originally from Gisborne, NZ) with her husband Stuart (Stuie) French (guitar ; Tasmania, Australia), Glen Hannah (Electric Guitars), Bill Risby (Keyboard) and James Gillard (bass)
Additionally, Lawrie Minson played one song (banjo) with Lee Kernaghan.
Pete Denahy played fiddle on a few numbers and Matt Fell played the melodica for Sara Storer.
Most of the band are Sydney based (except Brendan). Stuie and Camille shared that they get to play with the guys typically once a year for the Awards! Great job!

Performance Running order
a) The McClymonts - “House”
b) Luke O'Shea - “The Old Man’s Shed”
c) Kristy Cox - “Another Weary Mile”
d) The Weeping Willows - “River of Gold”
e) The Wolfe Brothers – “This Crazy Life”
f) Michael Waugh – “Heyfield Girl”
g) Kasey Chambers - “Ain’t No Little Girl”
h) Doyle and Debbie - “Whine, Whine, Twang,Twang”
i) Adam Brand - “Get On Your Feet”
j) Anne Kirkpatrick and Jeff Brown - “Orchid Street”
k) Fanny Lumsden - “Land of Gold”
l) Troy Cassar-Daley - “Things I Carry Around”
m) Caitlyn Shadbolt – “Running in Circles”
n) Justin Standley – “Till the Buzzer Goes Off”
o) Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart – “I Hear Them All”
p) Travis Collins – “Just Another Girl”
q) Sara Storer – “Amazing Night”
r) Kasey Chambers and Bernard Fanning - “Sooner or Later”.
s) Lee Kernaghan - “The Outback Club”

This year’s Golden Guitar Awards have been a great success and once again demonstrate the diversity of Australian country music through the performances of our incredibly talented artists. I would like to thank all those that were involved in staging the Awards, particularly our valued sponsorship and media partners for their outstanding support.” Dobe Newton, President Country Music Association of Australia.

The Toyota Golden Guitar Awards is the pinnacle event of the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth each year.
Toyota Australia's Executive Director of Sales and Marketing, Tony Cramb, said: “This year, Toyota celebrates 25 years of supporting the Country Music Festival in Tamworth, including 22 years of sponsoring the Toyota Star Maker, and many years as a sponsor of these Golden Guitar Awards. We’re thrilled to be able to continue our commitment of supporting country music in Australia – and the great artists honoured today – and to be the sponsor of the Toyota Golden Guitars again in 2017.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said last year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival attracted more than 13,700 international and domestic overnight visitors, who spent more than $13 million in the region.

“The Tamworth Country Music Festival is one of the world’s leading music events which generates significant economic and community benefits to NSW. We congratulate all of the finalists and winners of tonight’s 2017 Golden Guitar Awards which celebrated the success of outstanding musical achievements throughout the year, while also showcasing the best of emerging and established country music talent Australia has to offer,” Ms Chipchase said.

For full details of the winners, images and broadcast packages from the 45th Annual Toyota 
Golden Guitar Awards, head to
  • This years’ Country Music Awards of Australia – Toyota Golden Guitars were proudly supported by Toyota, the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, Regional Australia Bank, The Range, APRA AMCOS, Country Music Capital News, CMC, QANTASLINK and broadcast partner ABC.
  • The Awards, which started in 1973 are the nation’s longest running music awards and play a vital role in developing and promoting Australian country music talent.
  • The Toyota Golden Guitar Awards are the only industry affiliated country music awards in Australia and the greatest celebration of Australian country music talent. The Awards are the pinnacle event of the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth.
  • The Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth is proudly supported by the NSW Government though its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.
2017 CMAA Winners

List of 45th Toyota CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia Nominations, Winners

2017 Golden Guitar Awards Winners & Nominees:

CAUGHT UP IN THE DREAMING – Luke O’Shea (Producer Luke O’shea and Benjy Pocock)
SILOS – Sara Storer (Producer Matt Fell)
THIS CRAZY LIFE – The Wolfe Brothers (Producer – Luke Wooten)
HARD LIGHT – Travis Collins (Producer – Travis Collins)
THINGS I CARRY AROUND – Troy Cassar-Daley (Producer – Troy Cassar-Daley) WINNER *

Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart – Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart (Producer – Glenn Hannah) WINNER *
Victim Or The Heroine – Katie Brianna (Producer – Shane Nicholson)
Part of Me – Kristy Cox (Producer – Jerry Salley)
Before Darkness Comes A-Callin’ – The Weeping Willows (Producer – Laura Coates and Andrew Wrigglesworth)
You Can’t Catch Fish From A Train – The Wilson Pickers (Producers – The Wilson Pickers)

50 Years in Oz – Allan Caswell
Unsung – A tribute to the songs of Buddy Bruce – Doug Bruce
Caught Up In The Dreaming – Luke O’Shea
Hard Light – Travis Collins WINNER *
Things I Carry Around – Troy Cassar-Daley

Happy Ever After – Amber Lawrence
Burn Baby Burn – Kirsty Lee Akers
Part of Me – Kristy Cox
Silos – Sara Storer WINNER *
Follow The Journey – Sellen McAlister

Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart – Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart (Here We Go – The Sunny Cowgirls) WINNER *
Before Darkness Comes A-Callin’ – The Weeping Willows
This Crazy Life – The Wolfe Brothers
Desert Water – Warren H Williams & Dani Young

Bartender Blues – Adam Harvey (Performers: Adam Harvey & Lyn Bowtell)
Cheers To The Girls – Amber Lawrence (Performers – Amber Lawrence with Catherine Britt and Fanny Lumsden)
Orchid Street – Anne Kirkpatrick (Performers – Anne Kirkpatrick & Jeff Brown)
F U Cancer – Catherine Britt (Performers – Catherine Britt with Kacey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Lyn Bowtell, Josh Pyke, Wes Carr and Wendy Matthews) WINNER *
My Diamond – Sara Storer (Performers – Sara Storer & Greg Storer)

A Truckie Up in Queensland – Alan Caswell (Songwriters – Alan Caswell & Manfred Vijars)
The Veteran – Dean Perrett (Songwriters – Dean Perrett)
Ghosts Of The Murranji – Graham Rodger (Songwriter – Graham Rodger)
God Given Rain – Jeff Brown (Songwriter – Jeff Brown)
Amazing Night – Sara Storer (Songwriter – Sara Storer) WINNER *

Goulburn Valley Woman – Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart (Songwriter – Kevin Bennett)
The Old Man’s Shed – Luke O’Shea (Songwriter – Luke O’Shea & John Kruslja) WINNER *
Red, White & Blue – Roo Arcus (Songwriter – Roo Arcus)
Purple Cockies – Sara Storer (Songwriter – Sara Storer)
Hometown Calling – Travis Collins (Songwriter – Travis Collins & Troy Kemp)

Twenty-Five – Lindsay Waddington
Cosmopolitan Blues – Michael Fix
Buckle Up – Mickey Pye
Roundabout – Runaway Dixie
Song for Manaia – Stuie French WINNER *

I Hear Them All – Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart
Losing My Blues Tonight – Dean Perrett
Another Weary Mile – Kristy Cox WINNER *
Cumberland Gap – The Hillbilly Goats
River Of Gold – The Weeping Willows

Running in Circles – Caitlyn Shadbolt
Land of Gold – Fanny Lumsden WINNER *
Till The Buzzer Goes Off – Justin Standley
Heyfield Girl – Michael Waugh
River of Gold – The Weeping Willows

Gouburn Valley Woman – Bennett, Bowtell & Urquhart (Songwriter – Kevin Bennett)
60 Summers – Graeme Connors (Songwriter – Graeme Connors)
Ain’t No Little Girl – Kasey Chambers (Songwriter – Kasey Chambers)
Call Me Crazy – Travis Collins (Songwriter – Travis Collins) WINNER *
My Diamond - Sara Storer
Land Of Gold – Fanny Lumsden (Songwriter – Fanny Lumsden) *

* The Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) had to ask Fanny Lumsden to withdraw her nomination after it was
determined that her song 'Land of Gold' was ineligible due to its previous release on Lumsden's 2015 album 'Small Town Big Shot'. The 2015 album falls outside the eligibility period, however her 2016 single release, 'Land of Gold' was eligible for 'Single of the Year' and for 'Qantaslink New Talent of the Year' where she remained a finalist in both categories.
Sara Storer was named as the new finalist for her song 'My Diamond' from her album SILOS.

60 Summers – Graeme Connors (Director – Ben Bishop, Tropical Exposure)
Ain’t No Little Girl – Kasey Chambers (Director – Duncan Toombs, Filmery)
The Truth Walks Slowly (In The Countryside) – O’Shea (Director – Mark O’Shea) WINNER *
Raise Your Glass – Simply Bushed (Director – Duncan Toombs, Filmery)
Call Me Crazy – Travis Collins (Director – Duncan Toombs, Filmery)

Land of Gold – Fanny Lumsden
60 Summers – Graeme Connors
Ain’t No Little Girl – Kasey Chambers
The Truth Walks Slowly (In The Countryside) – O’Shea
Just Another Girl – Travis Collins WINNER *

RIPCORD – Keith Urban WINNER *

Nominations for the CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia were for material released during the eligibility period.
This eligibility period is 1 October through to 30 September each year, unless otherwise advised.
Nominations in the 2017 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards opened at 9am on Tuesday 30 August 2016, and closed at 5pm on Saturday 1 October 2016.
The final round of judging is undertaken by current financial CMAA Professional Members and the VIP judging panel, who vote to determine the winners in each of the voted categories.
Over 500 separate pieces of recorded product and over 150 individual nominations generally feature in each year’s Awards
The 2017 Toyota Golden Guitars Finalists Announcement >> streamed live on Nov 29, 2016 which was hosted by Amber Lawrence and Aleyce Simmonds.

The Official Guide to the Tamworth Country Music Festival produced and published by Country Music Capital News - is recognised as one of the world’s biggest festival publications. It is the original and definitive guide featuring the Official Program and Official A to Z Artist Directory.
The 2017 souvenir Official Guide contains over 260 pages covering the countdown (seven days prior to the festival) and the official 10 days festival period from the January 20 to 29, 2017.
Purchases of the Official Guide received a complimentary souvenir music CD, valued at $25, reflecting a small selection of music you’ll discover at this unique festival.
The most popular feature of the Official Guide is the exclusive A to Z Artist Directory which is a valuable companion that includes where the artists are appearing, times and dates, as well as numerous artist photos and biographies.


Fairfax Rural Events and Toyota were proud to announce exciting changes to Australia’s most prestigious country music talent search. Ten of Australia’s top emerging talent vied for the honour of becoming the 38th Toyota Star Maker in a winner-takes-all, event in Toyota Park, in the leafy heart of Tamworth, Australia’s Country Music Capital. Toyota Star Maker has traditionally been the main event of the first festival weekend, but this concert on Sunday, January 22, made it an even more significant occasion. For the very first time in Star Maker history, the event was FREE, with all 10 finalists being judged on the night, with one winner emerging.
The winner received a prize package which includes a new Toyota motor vehicle, an unlimited fuel card for 12 months to transport them around the country, plus guaranteed performances at major festivals and events throughout Australia. Toyota has a long and proud history of supporting country music in Australia, including 22 years of sponsoring the emerging artists of Star Maker and 25 years backing the overall Country Music Festival in Tamworth.

Among the exclusive Star Maker alumni are Lee Kernaghan, Keith Urban, Beccy Cole, James Blundell, Darren Coggan, Travis Collins, Gina Jeffreys, Samantha McClymont, Kirsty Lee Akers, Kaylee Bell and many more. The 2017 Toyota Star Maker finalists, chosen from across the country, were:

1 Andrew Swift, Berwick Vic
2 Angus Gill, Wauchope NSW
3 Brook Chivell, Labrador Qld
4 Cassidy Rae Gaiter, Flagstaff Hill SA
5 Jade Holland, Balgal Beach Qld
6 Liam Kennedy-Clark, Sippy Downs Qld
7 Meg Doherty, Pakenham Vic
8 Megan Sidwell, Melbourne Vic
9 Michelle Plozza, Kingston Qld
10 Rachael Fahim, Cherrybrook NSW WINNER *

Toyota Star Maker co-ordinator Cheryl Byrnes said she was delighted with the standard of performers applying for Toyota Star Maker 2017. “Toyota Star Maker is a fabulous opportunity and it truly is getting harder to judge each year as entrants raise the bar,” Ms Byrnes said.

Rachael Fahim became the 2017 Toyota Star Maker, after winning the Grand Final.
The ten young country acts lined up to perform in front of the largest crowd to ever witness a Star Maker final, held for the first time in Bicentennial Park in Tamworth.
Guy Sebastian surprised the capacity crowd by singing during his guest appearance, to the delight of many screaming young fans.
This year’s winner made the final two years ago and she played her next single Confetti.

From Cherrybrook, in Sydney’s north west, Rachael turned to songwriting after she was bullied at school, and has spent several years on the talent quest circuit.
The weather stayed fine for the thousands of country fans who were entertained by the finalists and past winners, Brendon Walmsley, Jared Porter and Darren Coggan, who was also compere for the night.
Judges this year were radio program director Justin Thomson, artist managers Dan Biddle and David Woodward, 2014 Star Maker winner Jared Porter, Matt Newton from Pandora Radio and Craig Power from The Pub Group.

Toyota Star Maker co-ordinator, Cheryl Byrnes praised all the entrants saying: “The Toyota Star Maker competition continues to unearth some of the most exciting new country music talent and tonight is no exception.

“Our expert judging panel found it extremely difficult to choose the one, but it’s a sign of just how healthy the industry is overall, and that excites us.”

The victory will see Fahim receive a prize pack including the recording of three singles and three videos clips, a brand new Toyota RAV4 with an unlimited fuel card for 12 months, and guaranteed performances at major festivals throughout Australia.
Fahim’s Toyota Star Maker win comes off the back of a thrilling performance of her upbeat song, ‘Confetti’, followed by a powerful rendition of the Dolly Parton classic, ‘Jolene’.
The event was also given extra star shine with a performance from last year’s Star Maker winner, Karin Page.

Catherine Gunther caught up with 2017 Toyota Star Maker winner Rachael Fahim after her Fanzone performance.

Rachael Fahim “ROPE” (Official Music Video)

CONNECT with Rachael Fahim:
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The Toyota Star Maker Winner package included:
• Use of the title 2017 Toyota Star Maker Winner;
• 12 months use of a brand new, fully-serviced Toyota motor vehicle;
• A fuel card for the length of reign;
• A recording session with Australia’s top musicians and producer;
• Recording, distribution and promotion of three tracks to radio and other media;
• Production of three professional video clips by an award-winning director;
• A Maton acoustic guitar;
Fender products;
Shure products from Jands Australia;
12-months media promotion in Australia’s only monthly country music magazine Country Music Capital News;
• Full colour promotional material including posters, a pull-up and more;
• Direct and personal introductions to the industry based on the organisers 38 years history;
• Return air flight for one to Nashville for the CMA Festival in June 2017 courtesy of Chris Watson’s Travel Partners Tamworth;

About Toyota Star Maker
Toyota Star Maker is organised and promoted by Fairfax Rural Events, publishers of Country Music Capital News and the Official Guide To The Tamworth Country Music Festival.
What do the names Lee Kernaghan, Keith Urban, James Blundell, Gina Jeffreys, Beccy Cole, Darren Coggan, Kylie Sackley, Samantha McClymont and Luke Austen all have in common?
Apart from being successful, well-known Golden Guitar winning artists, they all had their careers significantly boosted by winning the Star Maker.
Each year Star Maker invites aspiring country music artists to compete for a range of opportunities that will provide a substantial career boost for the winner.
Star Maker is more than just a talent quest - it is a search (through competition) for an individual who has the greatest potential to take advantage of the opportunities offered in the Toyota Star Maker prize package.

CMAA 2017 Winners (2017) 2-CD Compilation

Release Date: 20/01/2017
Distributor: Universal Music Australia
Catalogue No. 5375688

The CMAA Winners compilation returns for another year featuring the very best of Australian country music. The album is a 2CD set of the nominees for the 45th CMAA Awards (to be awarded on Saturday 28th January 2017 at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment & Conference Centre).
Featured artists include The Wolfe Brothers, Catherine Britt, The Wilson Pickers, Travis Collins, Troy Cassar-Daley, Sara Storer and so much more.

It charted at #4 on ARIA Compilation Albums Chart and #5 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart

The 2017 Queen of Country Music
Taylor Fletcher was crowned the 2017 Queen of Country Music at a gala dinner, presented by Zonta at the Tamworth Jockey Club. Taylor is a young professional from Tamworth, who relocated to Sydney in 2007 to complete a degree in Media, Communications & Journalism. In 2015, Taylor moved back to Tamworth to enjoy the clean country air and reap the benefits of what Tamworth has to offer. She chose to participate in the Queen Quest so that she would be a positive ambassador to the Tamworth region. 

Taylor was sponsored by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Tamworth Sunrise. As winner of the 2017 Queen of Country Music Quest Taylor will receive over $10,000 in prizes including a trip to Tamworth’s sister city, Gore in New Zealand where she will represent Tamworth at the 2017 Gore Country Music Festival. Tamworth Country Music Festival Manager Barry Harley said: “The Queen of Country Music Quest is one of the great ongoing traditions and an integral part of the Tamworth Country Music Festival

The Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth (TCMF)

Tamworth Country Music Festival 2017: In Photos (Rolling Coverage)
Live & Loud Festival | The Cavalcade (350 Slides) | Red Carpet |
Golden Guitar Awards (as It Happened) | Golden Guitar Awards |  |
  • Celebrating its 45th year in 2017 it ran from Friday 20 to Sunday 29 January 2017.
  • Troy Cassar-Daley, Adam Brand and Amber Lawrence were Ambassadors to the Festival and credit much of their success to their beginning in Tamworth.
  • The Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth is the largest festival in the southern hemisphere and the most eagerly anticipated festival on the Australian country music calendar.
  • In 2017, the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth will feature 700 artists, 2,800 events across 120 venues.
  • It was anticipated the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth would welcome more than 50,000 visitors to the region across the 10-day event.
  • The Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth is the only country music festival with an industry affiliated, internationally recognised awards program – the Country Music Awards of Australia, commonly known at the Golden Guitar Awards. The existence of these awards ensure the event attracts the most prominent and successful country music artists in Australia.
  • Known as the ‘Country Music Capital of Australia’ Tamworth caters to all country music tastes from Bluegrass and Americana to Alt Country and Bush Ballards.
  • Keith Urban, Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole and Lee Kernaghan are just a fewof Australia’s country music stars who launched their career at the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth.
  • Iconic Australians including Slim Dusty and Joy McKean built the Country Music Industry in Australia and the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth into the landmark event it is today.
  • The Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth is committed to environmental sustainability and demonstrates this through its waste, water and energy management plans and campaigns.

2017 CMAA Red Carpet

Aleyce Simmonds – Wore a lovely sleeveless gown (Just Irresistible) with red lace detailing (Website 360 Peel Street , Tamworth, NSW 2340)

Amber Lawrence – Wore an elegant ivory Honey & Beau and Romance "Violet Halter Maxi" sleeveless gown with embroidered overlay details (Website)

Ashleigh Dallas -  Wore a fuschia dress made by Gemma at AMMEG Designs Tamworth to create a fun and funky look at the Toyota Golden Guitar Awards. Hair (Keune Haircosmetics/ Wavelengths489)

Caitlyn Shadbolt – Wore a Racy & Lucky Couture open back capped sleeve silver creation. Adding pointy strappy beige heels. The singer was there to perform her single 'Running in Circles' .

TOP (L-R): Aleyce Simmonds, Amber Lawrence, Ashleigh Dallas, Caitlyn Shadbolt
BOTTOM (L-R): Catherine Britt, Christie Lamb, Fanny Lumsden, Gemma Louise Kirby

Catherine Britt – Wore a plunging v-neck white lace gown with transparent panelling adding open toe sandals.

Christie Lamb - Presenting the first award of the night 'Single Of The Year' she wore an ultra-marine blue sleeveless lined gown featuring cut-out Lace-Bodice detailing and See-through waist appliques. She added open toe silver heels, silver rings, bracelet, earings and clutch.

Fanny Lumsden – Donned a spotty silk ruffle vintage Erin Paige Stevenson Dolly Up Vintage Emporium frock, Makeup (Emma Beau), Bangles (Dinosaur Designs)

Gemma Louise Kirby – The singer wore a black sleeveless mermaid gown with see-through tulle detail. Adding a Nikki Lissoni Australia necklace and black booties. She rocked a trendy half bun hair-do with straight shoulder length bangs and sported a deep red lippie.

Imogen Clark – The singer wore a dark bluey purple floral Free People Maxi dress with embroidered detailing with a plunging V-neckline, adding bangles and carried a white purse. 

Jayne Denham – Seen wearing long sleeved khaki jacket with cut-out detailing adding strappy black Stiletto heels, black top, pants and messy/ beachy red hair.

Karin Page – Last year’s Toyota Star winner wore a shiny silver black striped capped sleeve mini dress (T H E O T H E R S H O P Clothing Boutique) Hair & Makeup (Plush Hair Designs) adding black open sandals.

Kasey Chambers – Wore a light pink above the knee lace scalloped/ eyelash trim TALULAH frock from The Other Shop adding beige booties. Hair (Plush Hair Designs)

TOP (L-R): Imogen Clark, Jayne Denham, Karin Page, Kasey Chambers
BOTTOM (L-R):  Kirsty Lee Akers, Rachael Fahim, Sara Storer, Tania Kernaghan.

Kirsty Lee Akers - Wearing a strapless grey and silver Racy & Lucky couture gown with a leg slit and short train and added open-toe black sandals.

Kristy Cox - Rocked a flowing mermaid see-through lined cap sleeved black embroidered overlay gown

Rachael Fahim: She wore a short light colored Zhivago dress (source: Hatched PR/  MF PR). The three-year-old Melbourne-based brand specialises in evening wear with a decidedly Australian sensibility. 
Think structured playsuits, sculptural off-the-shoulder tops and curve-hugging keyhole dresses that fall below the knee (Runway thefashionspot)

Sara Storer - A formal and fetching look wearing a below the knee V-neck long sleeved black patterned dress adding matching pointy heels.

Tania Kernaghan - Wore a shiny silver sleeveless gown with cut-out bodice detail. On presenter duties for the Golden Guitar Award for Best New Talent.

Troy Kemp - Formerly of duo McAlister Kemp he was snapped on the red carpet with Aleesha Witherspoon who sported one of most beautiful CMAA fashion looks wearing a gorgeous sleeveless Black-White striped Color Block round neck backless floor length gown. 

High blonde ponytail extensions (Zala Website >> Demo)

The McClymonts – Brooke blue a sky blue Cami Mini Dress. Mollie donned an ivory sleeved cut-out dress (Moss Man Clothing Website) whilst Samantha wore a lovely Thurley Fiesta/ Mexican Carnival Flower print dress (Product)

TOP (L-R): The McClymonts, The Sunny Cowgirls
BOTTOM (L-R): The Weeping Willows, Travis Collins & Rebecca Collins, 
Troy Cassar-Daley & Laurel Edwards

The Sunny Cowgirls – A glowing Sophie sported a baby “sunny” bump.  rag and bone? Celeste Clabburn looked classy in a white sleeveless flared skater dress.
The Weeping Willows - Acoustic Americana/Country/Folk (Band Members Andrew Wrigglesworth - vocals/guitars/resonator) Laura Coates (vocals/piano accordion/autoharp) wore a gorgeous rose red floor length off-the-shoulder gown with flowing golden locks.

A photo posted by Lee Kernaghan (@leekernaghan) on

Sources: 2017 Golden Guitar Awards: The red carpet
TCMF2017 Instagram

Lisa Maree Williams (Instagram) Getty Images Entertainment

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