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2023 Toyota Star Maker Top 10

28 November 2022



A new generation of country stars will head to Tamworth in January to compete in Australia’s largest country music talent search, with the top 10 announced today, in the 43rd Toyota Star Maker.


The 2023 Toyota Star Maker top 10, in alphabetical order, are:


Claudia Tripp

Age 24




Age 22



Emily Hatton

Age 30



Finnian Johnson

Age 20



Jacob Vincent

Age 23

Kangaroo Point


Kiara Rodrigues

Age 26



Kora Naughton

Age 21

Albion Park


Loren Ryan

Age 28



Robbie Mortimer

Age 29




Sari Abbott

Age 19

Sunrise Beach



Toyota Star Maker Coordinator Cheryl Brown says there’s a shift in the overall country music scene with a refreshing new wave of exciting artists about.


“Every decade or so, we see a new line-up of highly professional artists hit the scene and we seem to have arrived at that place once again,” she says.


“Artists had time to practise a lot during the past few years, making the most of enforced downtime. They’ve now come out of hibernation, confident, polished and ready to entertain. Our entries this year seem to reflect this, which has made it rather difficult to choose just 10 grand finalists.”


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 42 years. The Star Maker alumni includes Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, Beccy Cole and James Blundell along with the latest stars to successfully use the launchpad – Kaylee Bell, Brad Cox, Blake O’Connor and Max Jackson among them.


The top 10 will perform two songs each at the 2023 Star Maker Grand Final on the first weekend of the Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth, in Toyota Park.


Judges are Dan Biddle, Chugg Music Country special projects manager; Justin Thomson, KIX Country program director and The Pub Group’s Craig Power, together with Star Maker manager Cheryl Brown and publicist Tom Inglis.


The grand final concert will feature a gala performance by the 2022 winner, Max Jackson whose Star Maker reign began in April at the postponed festival.


Max said her time as Toyota Star Maker had been nothing short of a dream come true, topped off with a nomination in the New Talent of the Year category at the 2023 Golden Guitar Awards.

“The support, guidance, opportunities and experiences I have had over the past year since becoming a finalist, then winner, only happen once in a lifetime,” says Max.

“I am so excited to be nominated for my first Golden Guitar and excited also for the 2023 winner, because I know that they too are about to have their life changed, just as mine did.”

Max has racked up the kilometres in her Toyota to perform at festivals including at Gympie, Groundwater, Savannah In The Round and Cruisin’ Country. Sponsor Chris Watson Travel flew Max to Nashville’s CMA Fest where she performed and experienced a number of songwriting sessions.


Her Star Maker EP will be launched at her first ticketed show on Wednesday, January 18 at 3pm in Moonshiners Honky Tonk Bar. It will feature Runnin’, which was a country radio smash with over three million radio impacts, and her new single Stratosphere.


Kaylee Bell returns to the Star Maker stage as special guest 10 years since winning the competition in 2013. Most recently Kaylee has released music with US superstar Lindsay Ell, performed her song Keith she wrote about Keith Urban in front of coaches Guy Sebastian, Jess Mauboy, Keith Urban, and Rita Ora, in The Voice Australia.

With more than 40 million Spotify streams, Kaylee is the Most Streamed Artist for Australasia with her hit single about her fellow Star Maker Keith being the most streamed country song by an Australian artist in 2022. Kaylee will play a show at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre with Same Songs collaborator James Johnston as part of the festival.

Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer Vin Naidoo said Toyota congratulates the 10 Toyota Star Maker finalists and looks forward to each talented musician having the opportunity to perform at the grand final concert in January.

“The Toyota Star Maker is widely known as a platform for country music artists looking to take the next step in their career, and we are proud to support the winner with an extensive prize package that will help fast-track them in hopefully becoming the next country music star both in Australia and internationally.”

 “We look forward to celebrating the remarkable young country musicians and wish all the finalists the best of luck with their 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 15, 2023 at the city’s largest outdoor venue – Toyota Park.

For further information on Toyota Star Maker visit


Toyota Star Maker is organised and promoted by Tamworth Regional Council, publishers of Tamworth Country Music Capital News, and the Official Guide To The Tamworth Country Music Festival. 



Toyota Star Maker will be held in Toyota Park at 7pm on Sunday, January 15, 2023. The event is FREE, and one winner will be decided on the night from the top 10 grand finalists. Max Jackson will be performing for the last time in her reign as the 2022 Toyota Star Maker with special guest 2013 winner Kaylee Bell.



1979 Grand Junction * 1980 Tommy Miller * 1981 Leanne Douglas * 1982 Lee Kernaghan * 1983 The Vic Lanyon Band * 1985 Great Divide * 1986 Jane Maddick * 1987 James Blundell * 1988 Jenine Vaughan * 1989 Craig Robertson * 1990 Keith Urban * 1991 Gina Jeffreys * 1992 Warren Derwent * 1993 Beccy Cole * 1994 Clint Beattie * 1995 Tanya Self * 1996 Darren Coggan * 1997 Lyn Bowtell * 1998 Kate Ballantyne * 1999 Brendon Walmsley * 2000 Grant Richardson * 2001 Kylie Sackley * 2002 Kieran Lancini * 2003 Todd Williams * 2004 Travis Collins * 2005 Samantha McClymont * 2006 Cat Southern * 2007 Kirsty Lee Akers * 2008 Talia Wittmann * 2009 Liam Brew * 2010 Luke Austen * 2011 Luke Dickens * 2012 Bob Corbett * 2013 Kaylee Bell * 2014 Jared Porter * 2015 Mickey Pye * 2016 Karin Page * 2017 Rachael Fahim * 2018 Brad Cox * 2019 Blake O’Connor * 2020 Sammy White * 2022 Max Jackson



Star Maker is an annual search for an individual country music artist aged over 18 years who is ready to take the next step in their career and who has the greatest potential to take advantage of the opportunities offered in the prize package. 

Tamworth Regional Council acknowledges the Gamilaroi/Kamilaroi people, who are the Traditional Custodians of this land. We would like to pay respect to Elders past and present, and extend that respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in and visiting our region.