Teenagers and children with a knack for the hillbilly twang are urged to register for the Golden Gig ahead of the 2024 Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF).
TCMF manager Barry Harley made the announcement in Tamworth on Wednesday, September 13, saying youngsters from across Australia can now register online ahead of the 10-day festival in January next year.
"It's vital to introduce youngsters into the industry in the proper way," Mr Harley said of the Golden Gig event.
"And it's so they're not being misguided or taken in a direction that may not do them good in the future."
Now in its third year, the Golden Gig - held from January 22 to 25 - gives teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17, and children aged 12 and under, the opportunity to get a foot in the door of an industry that can skyrocket them to stardom.
But Mr Harley has cautioned those youngsters not to get too ahead of themselves when starting out, by "acting like a superstar".
"[It's when] they start behaving in a way that's not befitting of young people that can actually slice them off," Mr Harley said of the country music industry.
"Because it's a fairly close fraternity, as all the [people at] festivals talk to each other."
Instead, Mr Harley has advised the 21st century youth to "just be authentic because that's what gets you into country music. Look at people like Troy Casser-Daley... you can't get more authentic than him."
"But country music, generally, is a very friendly, wholesome type of music," Mr Harley said. "And I think it's important that it develops this sort of family unity among others."
As part of the cash, voucher and gift prizes, those who win will receive professional mentoring from talented country music stars such as six-time Golden Guitar winner and two-time ARIA nominee Amber Lawrence.
"It's a great opportunity to get in front of people," Ms Lawrence said of the Golden Gig event.
"There is nothing like that moment of standing on stage when the pressure hits you and you really have to get over the nerves and just enjoy the moment."
The leading country music star said judges will be looking for confidence and a quality performance with "just that little spark" of determination that ascertains a future in the industry.
2023 Golden Gig runner-up Imogen Hall said the experience has been invaluable and has opened up so many more doors for her as a musician.
"You never know what can happen unless you give it a go. You don't know what sort of door can open or who you can meet if you don't try. That's all you have to do in life," Ms Hall said.
When asked who her country music idol is, Ms Hall was quick to say Ms Lawrence, who has mentored her following her win earlier this year.
"She's just a beautiful person. She's just an absolute angel. She helps me with any question. I can ask her anything and she'll get back to me with an answer straightaway," Ms Hall said.
The 52nd Tamworth Country Music Festival runs from January 10 to 28, 2024.
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