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Carrington's Max Jackson crowned 42nd Toyota Star Maker

19 April 2022

Carrington singer, songwriter Max Jackson has been crowned the 2022 Toyota Star Maker, following her impressive performance at the 42nd Grand Final concert, held earlier tonight at the 50th Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth.  

Thousands of country music fans packed Toyota Park for the Grand Final, hosted by 88.9FM Tamworth content director Ray McCoy, which saw 10 grand finalists perform two songs each, backed by an a-grade band that featured Rod Motbey, Ian Lees, Glenn Wilson, Gary Day and musical director Sam Hawksley.  

Following the postponement of Star Maker from January to April, the finalists had a greater opportunity to prepare for the event whilst gaining new followers and creating relationships. When coming to their decision, the judges considered the finalists’ entry, their individual interviews, and their preparation, before choosing the one who they believed stood apart from all other finalists. 

Star Maker coordinator and judge, Cheryl Brown said; “In all honesty it was a particularly difficult year with all 10 finalists worthy of being here.” 

Max impressed the judges with a captivating performance of her songs Life of the Party and Runnin’. 

Toyota Star Maker producer Barry Harley said: “A very big congratulations to Max, our 2022 Toyota Star Maker winner. 

“Toyota Star Maker has been a launch pad for some of Australia’s biggest country stars including Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, Beccy Cole, Travis Collins, Sam McClymont, Lyn Bowtell, Kirsty Lee Akers, Blake O’Connor and Brad Cox and I have no doubt this is just the beginning for Max,” he said. 

Max now takes the crown from singer-songwriter Sammy White, who became the 41st Star Maker winner in 2020. Sammy’s support by Toyota and Star Maker was extended by 12 months after COVID-19 cancelled the 2021 event. She is also a finalist in the New Talent of the Year category at the 2022 Toyota 50th Golden Guitar Awards.  

Sammy was unable to perform on the Star Maker stage tonight, due to isolation, but crowds were treated to a performance from former Star Maker winner and 2022 Hands of Fame inductee, Lyn Bowtell. Lyn was crowned Star Maker in 1997 and has claimed nine Golden Guitar Awards since.  

Lee Kernaghan, also surprised fans tonight with an exciting performance of two of his hits, Outback Club and Boys From The Bush. His appearance marked 40 years since his Star Maker win in 1982. Barry Harley presented Lee with a gift from Star Maker to acknowledge his four decades of continuous support of the competition, his nurturing of new talent, and commitment to the Australian country music industry. Lee recently released a milestone album The Very Best of Lee Kernaghan – Three Decades of Hits. 

Toyota Australia Senior Manager of Marketing Integration, Tim Stuckey, presented the award and said that the performances we saw tonight are a testament to the extraordinary up and coming talent we have here in Australian country music. 

“On behalf of Toyota Australia, I would like to congratulate Max on taking out the 2022 Toyota Star Maker title.” 

“For over two decades, Toyota Australia has proudly helped rising country music stars achieve their dreams and Max was truly a deserving winner of the 42nd Star Maker competition. 

“We hope the prizes Max takes home will help enhance what is set to be an incredible career in music, and we wish her all the best for their career,” Mr Stuckey said. 

Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said that the Tamworth Country Music Festival is considered one of the most unique events in the world.  

“Every year this Festival attracts Australia’s top country music talent and brings the city of Tamworth to life, and every year this festival acknowledges the incredible new and emerging talent and that’s what the Star Maker Award is all about,” Mr Ayres said. 

“The last two years has been tough, but incredibly tough for artists, who haven’t been able to practice their craft. I’m excited that festivals are back on, stages are being used and live music is once again at the forefront of our minds. 

“Congratulations to all the finalists for the 2022 Toyota Star Maker Award. 

“The NSW Government is proud to support the Tamworth Country Music Festival via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. 

In addition to the title of Toyota Star Maker winner, Max receives a prize package, which includes 12-months use of a brand new Toyota vehicle and fuel card, a trip to Nashville for the CMA Festival in June 2022 courtesy of Chris Watson Travel, photo portfolio with Andrew Pearson Photography, a recording session and production of two professional video clips, plus the opportunity to perform at major festivals and events across Australia.  

The 2022 Top Ten Star Maker Finalists were: 
1      Billie-Jo Porter     Age 38     Coffs Harbour     NSW 
2      Brittany Elise      Age 27     Boyne Island     QLD 
3      Charlie Fittler     Age 18     Armidale     NSW 
4      Clancy Pye     Age 29     Orange     NSW 
5      Heath Lancaster     Age 20     Kempsey     NSW 
6      Jade Gibson     Age 24     Wangaratta     VIC 
7      Jake Davey     Age 25     Taree     NSW 
8      Katie Jayne     Age 33     Scone     NSW 
9      Loren Ryan     Age 27     Tamworth     NSW 
10      Max Jackson     Age 29     Carrington     NSW 
The illustrious panel of judges included: 
•    Cheryl Brown, Coordinator, Toyota Star Maker 
•    Craig Power, Owner of The Pub Group 
•    Dan Biddle, Artist manager and Chugg Music Country, Special Projects Manager,  
•    Justin Thomson, KIX Country Program Director 
•    Roxanne Brown, Industry stalwart and manager of Troy Cassar-Daley 
•    Tom Inglis, Consultant, HSF Artist Services 
For further information on the Toyota Star Maker competition visit

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.