THE winter country music invasion began yesterday, when the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA) Academy of Country Music attendees started their training at the beginning of a big few weeks for country music and Tamworth.
On Friday, US country star Carrie Underwood will start the country carnival with her concert at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre.
The first weekend in July will see Toyota Hats Off to Country take centre stage in the city, with more than 80 new, established and up-and-coming country artists on the bill, along with headline act Catherine Britt.
The festival favourite will join James Blundell and Ella Hooper today outside the Tamworth Regional Council headquarters in Peel Street to celebrate 10 years of the Telstra Road to Discovery talent search. This celebration coincides with national launch of the popular talent quest’s next event.
The long-running Toyota Star Maker Quest, now in its 33rd year, has also helped develop the country music talent of today with artists such as Keith Urban, Gina Jeffreys and Lee Kernaghan all getting their big break from the music development competition.
Under the watchful eye of Tamworth’s own Felicity Urquhart yesterday were 22 academy participants, leaving their homes from around Australia to bring their guitars and talent for the CMAA two-week intensive training in all things country.
Settled in at Calrossy’s school dormitories are the budding hopefuls who beat over 100 applicants to take on the senior academy course, with intensive songwriting, vocal technique and business skills on the agenda.
Academy co-ordinator Greg Williams said the course had a great track record, and was an “education process for talented people in the country music industry”.
In its 16-year history, the course has launched over 400 graduates into the country music and pop genre worlds, including Jessica Mauboy, Kirsty Akers, the Sunny Cowgirls and 8 Ball Aitken.
This year’s intake includes Telstra Road to Discovery songwriter and performer winners Kelly Menhennett and Andrew Redford, and local songstress Lauren Ryan.
The junior course which has attracted 21 participants will begin its country music journey on Friday.
“We embrace them all no matter what their genre or talent,” Mr Williams said.
“Last year we had a bagpiper.
“Country is not a narrow genre, it has many facets.”
On July 7 the senior group will hold its graduation concert at Blazes at the West Tamworth League Club.