TOYOTA Star Maker returned to its Tamworth Town Hall roots for the final on Sunday night, with Tori Darke, Damien Agius, Jared Porter and Jonny Taylor coming out on top.
Tori said it was surreal to be back in the grand finalist position, having been there before.
“I’m excited to be performing on the Toyota Concert for Rural Australia and am the only skirt in the line-up,” she said.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic. We have a very big week ahead, with not much downtime.”
She said she wanted to meet lots of new people and share the opportunities they had as grand finalists, as not many people had that honour.
“I want to take full advantage of every opportunity possible, to show off what we’re all about as artists,” she said.
Damien said he didn’t think he would make the top 10 finalists, let alone the grand final.
“I almost fainted,” he said.
“I’m so excited. This has given us opportunities, so we’ll be pulling our fanbase in through singing at our spots, and people will really get to know our personality through interviews.”
Jared, originally from California and now living in Brisbane, said it would mean the world to him to win.
“We all have great aspirations. I want to see the whole of Australia and play at every pub and festival I can,” he said.
“I’m going to make the most of the rest of the festival and try to enjoy every moment.”
Jonny has been a finalist previously and said he looked up to former Star Maker winner James Blundell as a songwriter, and Troy Cassar-Daley, who was a finalist but didn’t win, was also an inspiration.
“I’ve been out on the streets with posters, fliers and balloons and that will help us get out there more. I will just keep digging deep,” he said.
The four will now go head-to-head at the Toyota Star Maker grand final, which opens the Toyota Concert for Rural Australia on Friday at 7pm.
As with last year, members of the public will be able to show their support for their favourite contestant in the grand final – via an SMS voting system.
The four grand finalists will be competing to win a prize package which will include a recording deal, new Toyota RAV4 with an unlimited fuel card for 12 months, and mentoring from country music legend Lee Kernaghan.