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51st Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth: Hands of Fame inductees announced

16 January 2023

A celebrated singer-songwriter, internationally acclaimed bluegrass export, award-winning cinematographer, outback horseman and honky tonk queen will cement their place in history next Saturday, with the 2023 Hands of Fame inductees announced at the 51st Toyota Country Music Festival.

Kevin Bennett, Kristy Cox, Duncan Toombs, Tom Curtain and Wanita will have their hand impressions placed alongside 300 others at the Hands of Fame cornerstone, on Kable Ave in Tamworth.

Toyota Country Music Festival Manager, Barry Harley said: “Congratulations to our 2023 Hands of Fame inductees. Each of these five artists are talented performers and artists and are each deserving of a place in Australasian country music history.”
Singer-songwriter Kevin Bennett is known as “the singer’s singer … the songwriter’s songwriter” and has led country blues and roots band, The Flood for many years.

He’s also been part of the much-awarded trio, Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart and is a regular tutor at the CMAA Academy of Country Music and The DAG Songwriters’ Retreat.

South Australian-born Kristy Cox has quite the pedigree in country music, having come through the talent quest ranks to become an international bluegrass sensation.

Now a dual citizen of Australia and the USA, Kristy has a string of award-winning albums to her credit and is kept busy performing at festivals across America and in her own homeland.

Duncan Toombs has long been the sideman to Australian country music’s biggest stars and has won countless awards for creating film clips to accompany their music. Duncan has stepped into the spotlight with his much-anticipated debut album, Steel On Steel, to be launched at Wests’ Event Centre on Wednesday at 3.30pm.

Northern Territory-based horse and dog whisperer Tom Curtain now has five successful albums, as well as an award-winning outback enterprise. He’s had #1 hits from each release to date and Katherine Outback Experience, his primary business, has won countless accolades for engaging tourists in the Territory.

Wanita was crowned Australia’s Queen of Honky Tonk by public acclamation in the early 1990s at a Hank Williams tribute show in Sydney. Now comfortable with the title, Wanita is the toast of the international film festival circuit following the release of a documentary on her life, I’m Wanita!

“The annual Hands of Fame imprinting ceremony is always a highlight of the festival, and continues to be a year round tourist attraction with more than 300 palms placed in the garden setting on the corner of Kable Ave and Brisbane St, Tamworth,” said Mr Harley.

“It is one of the most tourist attractions, and was established in 1977, with Johnny Ashcroft, Slim Dusty, Joy McKean, Smoky Dawson, Buddy Williams and Tex Morton among the crop of 21 artists saluted that inaugural year.”

The 2023 Hands of Fame imprinting ceremony will take place on Saturday, 21 January at 9.30am at the Hands of Fame Park on Kable Ave, Tamworth and will be hosted by Lorraine Pfitzner OAM. Tamworth Regional Mayor Russell Webb will present the 2022 inductees with their certificates.

Information about all previous inductees can now be found online, via eHive The Hands of Fame Inductees – Australian Country Music Hall of Fame.

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.