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.