THE Toyota Star Maker grand final will kick off festivities for the Concert for Rural Australia tonight at Toyota Park and Lee Kernaghan will headline.
Lee, who’s been supporting Toyota’s initiatives for rural Australia for many years, said Tamworth was the highlight of his touring year and he couldn’t wait to take the stage. As part of his support of, and ambassador role with, the car company, he has also announced he will take on a mentoring role with Toyota Star Maker starting in 2015.
Lee’s manager, Steve White, said Tamworth was the start of many careers of big stars and future stars.
“To assist great Australian talent, Lee’s agreed to become a mentor to Toyota Star Maker and he will help guide next year’s winner,” he said. “We will start with this year’s winner, but as of next year we will take a seat right next to these young stars and teach them advice from Lee.”
Lee said it wasn’t about making another Lee Kernaghan or having artists be someone they’re not, it was about smoothing their paths to a music career.
“Any success I’ve had I can attribute to people I’ve had around me,” he said.
And he’s had plenty of success, as his Golden Guitar collection proves, with another seven within his grasp on Saturday night.
“The Golden Guitars are hugely important to careers for all artists nominated,” he said.
Lee said winning his first Golden Guitar was a “life-changer”.
“I went from playing to 10, 15, 20 people to touring professionally,” he said. “There’s going to be maybe people winning Golden Guitars for the first time and they’re the future of Australian country music.”
Lee said the other magic of Tamworth was the young artists busking in the street, like banjo girl Taylor Pfeiffer, who’s just finished the junior CMAA Academy of Country Music, and fellow graduate Liam O’Donoghue, who performed Flying With The King at the Bush Laureate Awards.
“Hearing these stories of these young kids coming through, it’s very exciting for the future of Australian country music,” he said.
“I don’t think even Nashville is like that. Tamworth is an incubator for new careers.”
He said all artists had to be true to themselves and always remember where they came from and that it was the fans who kept them in their careers.
Lee said tonight’s concert should see a capacity crowd donating to the McGrath Foundation.