IT'S been a tough year for Felicity Urquhart, who tragically lost her husband Glen Hannah to suicide in May.
The artist has just been nominated for eight 2020 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards, a well-deserved nod to the album Frozen Rabbit she produced with her late-husband.
The nominations are an acknowledgement of the hard work and love they both put into her first album in a decade, she said.
"It is an end in a way, there's no repeating what we've done and it's all history now, it feels like the way to acknowledge Glen and lift forward into a positive 2020 with all this love and mateship," Urquhart told the Leader.
"Nobody is pretending it hasn't happened, I wish he was here but I like to think he's looking down and might have helped move some chess pieces.
"To me it's not a sympathy effort, the industry knows the effort Glen and I put in, I feel this is the best work I've ever done and Glen said that too, I knew he was proud."
It's the most Golden Guitar nominations the country artist has ever received.
Stood next to hosts The McClymonts and Toyota Star Maker Blake O'Connor, Urquhart said the words of congratulations have filled her cup back up in a big way.
Still on her Young Stars of Country Reunion Tour with Beccy Cole, Adam Harvey and Darren Coggan, Urquhart said she hasn't stopped smiling.
"I'm really proud of all of us, in this industry we aren't fly by night, we're hardcore long-term," she said.
"It's all about the hard yards, putting in and respecting each other's craft.
"It's been a lovely spin as well that the video I'm nominated for, Glen produced, shot and directed, so all the skills of his talent have been acknowledged at these Golden Guitars."
TRUE BLUE country artists have been given the official nod as the 2020 Toyota Golden Guitar Award finalists.
Boy from the bush Lee Kernaghan, and country music sweetheart Felicity Urquhart cleaned up at the star-studded event on Tuesday, up for eight awards each.
It's been a tough year for Urquhart, who lost her talented producer and artist husband Glen Hannah to suicide earlier this year.
Her first album in a decade, Frozen Rabbit, has been nominated for Toyota Album of the Year.
Urquhart contends for seven other awards including Female Artist of the Year and Vocal Collaboration of the Year with Karl Broadie, who lived in Nundle and lost his battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in 2016.
While Kernaghan's album Backroad Nation is a nod to the country that exists off the beaten track, and remains true to the sound of Australian country music he became famous for.
Former school teacher Sara Storer nips at their heels, nominated for seven Golden Guitar awards and an ARIA for her seventh studio album Raindance.
Drought has hit Storer hard emotionally, her brothers run the family farm at Warren and she knows how hard it is.
The industry had struggled in recent years, but Country Music Association of Australia chair Dan Biddle said the genre has entered a new golden era.
"We're in a golden era of country music right now, and I say that not just based on my emotions... I can assure you that this is a fact," he said.
"From the first-time finalists to our legends of the industry, we thank them for continuing to inspire the public with their music and lead the way for Australian country music to shine well into the future.
"Today's event has certainly set the stage for another incredible night of celebration when the winners are announced in Tamworth on 25 January 2020."
Newcastle's own Morgan Evans is in the running for four Golden Guitar awards, Toyota Album of the Year, Apple Music Single of the Year, Contemporary Album of the Year and Male Artist of the Year.
Evans relocated to Nashville in 2017 and has since topped US charts with his album Things That We Drink To.
Amber Lawrence, Brad Butcher, Luke O'Shea and Lyn Bowtell and The Wolfe Brothers are all up for three Golden Guitars.
It's Lawrence's opportunity to win a second Female Artist of the Year award as well as Contemporary Country Album of the Year and Toyota Album of the Year.
Brad Butcher was 21 when he discovered he had a half brother.
The fact that he turned out to be an opera singer and professional golfer was just a bonus.
Family is a topic close to Butcher's heart, and that connection strongly features in his album Travelling Salesman.
He's up for Alt Country Album of the Year, Male Artists of the Year and Heritage Song of the Year.
With a good handful of 16 Golden Guitars between them, Luke O'Shea and Lyn Bowtell are nominated for Vocal Collaboration of the Year, Heritage Song of the Year and APRA AMCOS Song of the Year.
The old friends have spent the last few months on their Love and Laughter Tour.
The Wolfe Brothers cleaned up at the 2019 Golden Guitar Awards and took home four out of five nominations.
This year Nick and Tom Wolfe, along with Brodie Rainbird are up for CMC Video Clip of the Year, Apple Music Single of the Year and Vocal Collaboration of the Year with Lee Kernaghan.
Toyota Star Maker Blake O'Connor burst onto the country music scene, nominated for Male Artist of the Year and Qantas New Talent of the Year for his debut album Everything I Feel, which hit number one on the ARIA Australian Country Charts.
O'Connor competes with Casey Barnes, Sinead Burgess, Seaforth and The Buckleys for the new talent award.
Jindabyne export Brad Cox is more comfortable in pluggers on the red carpet, after he took out Toyota Star Maker in 2018.
He's up for APRA AMCOS Song of the Year and Apple Music Single of the Year for his song Rusty Strings.
Tamworth's own Ashleigh Dallas is up for two awards, along with prolific songwriter Allan Caswell, Busby Marou, Cornell and Carr, Kevin Bennett and the Flood, Michael Waugh and Gina Jeffreys.
Up for one award each is Andrew Swift and Gretta Ziller, Angus Gill, Dean Perrett, Fanny Lumsden, Graham Rodger, Hayley Marsten, Jenny Mitchell, Jetty Road, John O'Dea, Michael Fix, Mickey Pye, Mustered Courage, Phil Emmanuel with Jacob Funnell, Rod McCormack and The Viper Creek Band.
The full list of 2020 Toyota Golden Guitar finalists
Alt-Country Album of the Year
Brad Butcher, Hayley Marsten, Jenny Mitchell, Michael Waugh, Kevin Bennett and the Flood
Contemporary Country Album of the Year
Amber Lawrence, Busby Marou, Cornell and Carr, Lee Kernaghan and Morgan Evans
Traditional Country Album of the Year
Angus Gill, Ashleigh Dallas, Felicity Urquhart, Gina Jeffreys and Sara Storer
Male Artist of the Year
Blake O'Connor, Brad Butcher, Lee Kernaghan, Michael Waugh and Morgan Evans
Female Artist of the Year
Amber Lawrence, Ashleigh Dallas, Felicity Urquhart, Gina Jeffreys, Sara Storer
Country Music Capital News Group or Duo of the Year
Busby Marou, Cornell and Carr, Jetty Road, Kevin Bennett and the Flood, The Viper Creek Band
Vocal Collaboration of the Year
Andrew Swift and Gretta Ziller, Felicity Urquhart featuring Karl Broadie, Lee Kernaghan with The Wolfe Brothers, Luke O'Shea and Lyn Bowtell and Sara Storer and Colin Hay
Bush Ballad of the Year
Allan Caswell, Dean Perrett, Graham Rodger, Jeff Brown, John O'Dea
Heritage Song of the Year
Brad Butcher, Felicity Urquhart featuring Shanley Del, Lee Kernaghan, Luke O'Shea and Lyn Bowtell and Sara Storer
Coca-Cola Instrumental of the Year
Michael Fix, Mickey Pye, Mustered Courage, Phil Emmanuel with Jacob Funnell and Rod McCormack
Bluegrass Recording of the Year
Allan Caswell, Hillbilly Goats, Kristy Cox, Mustered Courage and Rod McCormack
Qantas New Talent of the Year
Blake O'Connor, Casey Barnes, Sinead Burgess, Seaforth and The Buckleys
APRA AMCOS Song of the Year
Brad Cox, Felicity Urquhart, Lee Kernaghan, Luke O'Shea and Lyn Bowtell and Sara Storer
CMC Video Clip of the Year
Fanny Lumsden, Felicity Urquhart, Lee Kernaghan, Sara Storer and The Wolfe Brothers
Apple Music Single of the Year
Brad Cox, Felicity Urquhart, Lee Kernaghan, Morgan Evans and The Wolfe Brothers
Toyota Album of the Year
Amber Lawrence, Felicity Urquhart, Lee Kernaghan, Morgan Evans and Sara Storer