2023 Toyota Star Maker won by Loren Ryan in Tamworth

**Loren Ryan named 43rd Toyota Star Maker at the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth**

**Prize package worth more than $100,000 includes recording of a four-track EP, 12-month use of Toyota vehicle and a trip to Nashville**

**Toyota Star Maker competition provides career springboard for talented country music artists**

Loren Ryan, a 28 year old Gamilaraay woman from Tamworth (NSW) has been crowned the 43rd Toyota Star Maker winner after her outstanding performance of ‘Bounce Back’ (written by Loren Ryan and Billie Jo Porter) and ‘Suddenly’ (written by Loren Ryan) in the Grand Final, held at the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth.

Huge crowds of country music fans gathered in Toyota Park for the Grand Final, hosted by Ray McCoy, which saw 10 grand finalists perform two songs each, accompanied by an a-grade band that featured Duncan Toombs, Simon Johnson, Scott Hills and Clare O’Meara.

More than 500 artists have performed as finalists over the past 43 years, making Toyota Star Maker the longest-running and most prestigious musical talent search in the country.

Each year, the competition helps unearth talented new artists, including 2022 winner Max Jackson, who hit the stage for a gala performance and is also nominated for New Talent of the Year category at this year’s Golden Guitar Awards.

Fans were also treated to a special guest performance from Kaylee Bell, who returned to the Star Maker stage after 10 years since winning the competition in 2013.

Since winning Star Maker, Kaylee has performed in The Voice Australia and is the Most Streamed Artist for Australasia on Spotify.

Kaylee is just one of many country music stars that made it big after winning the Toyota Star Maker competition, including Keith Urban, Gina Jeffreys, Sam McClymont, James Blundell and Lee Kernaghan.

Loren Ryan wowed the judges ahead of the nine other finalists: Claudia Tripp (WA), Denvah (QLD), Emily Hatton (QLD), Finnian Johnson (NSW), Jacob Vincent (QLD), Kiara Rodrigues (NSW), Kora Naughton (NSW), Robbie Mortimer (NSW), Sari Abbott (QLD).

By winning the Toyota Star Maker prize, Loren took home a prize package worth more than $100,000 including the use of a fully serviced Toyota vehicle for a year including fuel, return air flights including accommodation to Nashville in the US to attend the CMA (Country Music Association) Fest and recording and promotion of a four-track EP.

In awarding the winner, Toyota Australia Senior Manager of Marketing Integration, Tim Stuckey, said that the line-up of artists that performed tonight showcased the remarkable strength and talent that underpins country music in Australia.

“On behalf of Toyota Australia, I would like to congratulate Loren Ryan on becoming the 2023 Toyota Star Maker.”

“The Toyota Star Maker is widely known as a platform for country music artists to achieve their dreams and Loren was truly a deserving winner of the 2023 Star Maker competition.

“Loren is taking home an incredible array of prizes which we hope will support what is going to be an amazing career in music, and we wish her all the best for the future.” Mr Stuckey said.

Star Maker coordinator and judge, Cheryl Brown said: “The judges had a difficult time coming to a final decision tonight, as they so often do, and after taking all elements into consideration, it was Loren Ryan we felt most ready.

“We were amazed at the social and musical diversity amongst the finalists. Max Jackson’s past eight months has been really rewarding and we look forward to making the year ahead just as memorable for Loren.

“Whilst there is only one winner, the nine grand finalists should be proud of their performances tonight. It validates their worth in the Australian country music industry and we hope that they can carry on long after the festival, knowing that they were chosen among the best new artists for the year.”

Toyota Star Maker producer Barry Harley said: “Congratulations to Loren Ryan, who is a very deserving winner of the 2023 Toyota Star Maker title.

“This competition has launched the careers of some of the nation’s top artists including Lee Kernaghan, Beccy Cole, Travis Collins, Sam McClymont, Lyn Bowtell, Kirsty Lee Akers, Blake O’Connor, Brad Cox and international superstar Keith Urban, and Loren is now included in that illustrious Star Maker winner’s list,” he said.

A notable panel of judges chose Loren Ryan as the 2023 Star Maker winner at Toyota Park including Cheryl Brown, Coordinator, Toyota Star Maker; Craig Power, Owner of The Pub Group; Dan Biddle, Artist manager and Chugg Music Country, Special Projects Manager; Justin Thomson, KIX Country Program Director; Tom Inglis, Consultant, Toyota Star Maker publicist.

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