** 2019 Toyota Star Maker Blake O’Connor wins New Talent of the Year award in 2020 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards **
** Toyota Verandah sessions host Felicity Urquhart shines with six Golden Guitar Awards including Female Artist of the Year **
** Felicity Urquhart’s Frozen Rabbit wins 2020 Toyota Album of the Year **
Toyota 2019 Star Maker Blake O’Connor has proven he has the talent to make it big in the music business after winning the Qantas New Talent of the Year award at the Toyota Golden Guitar Awards held at the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth.
Blake was just one of the musicians recognised in 17 categories in the annual country music awards program and said it topped off a superb year of growing and learning as a musician and performer.
His Golden Guitar award came after winning the 40th Toyota Star Maker this time last year, joining a long list of Australian country music stars that have all had their careers boosted by winning the title including Keith Urban, Sam McClymont, Gina Jeffreys and Lee Kernaghan.
Blake spent the year honing his craft performing at festivals around the world including CMA Fest in Nashville, US, Buckle & Boots Festival in the UK and Deni Ute Muster and Gympie Music Muster back home in Australia.
In July, he released his debut album Everything I Feel that reached #1 on the Aria Australian Country Chart and #8 on the ARIA Australian All Genres Chart.
“Winning the Toyota Star Maker last year really gave me a big boost with the opportunity to perform at a number of festivals and get in front of bigger audiences,” Blake said.
“I really had a great year recording my first album and it was an honour to just be nominated for a Golden Guitar, let alone win one,” he said.
Sharing the winners’ stage alongside Blake was Felicity Urquhart who took home a total of six Golden Guitars including the 2020 Toyota Album of the Year for Frozen Rabbit and Female Artist of the Year.
Felicity, alongside Lee Kernaghan, had been nominated for the highest number of awards (eight) this year and had earlier in the week also hosted the Toyota Verandah sessions, a series of short films recorded during the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth that brought together musicians and community members to share stories in music and conversation.
Felicity said she was proud to have won the Golden Guitar awards, and it had been a fantastic festival that really brought home the strength and resilience of Australia’s rural community that is facing hard times.
“What I love about the Golden Guitars, the night of nights for our industry, is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t win one, because everyone is still part of the family of country music,” Felicity said.
“So you’re still happy for a mate to pick up an award because our industry is very community minded and this festival is about more than the music.
“It really is about celebrating our unique community and that was something that came through in the Verandah sessions that I hosted.
“Through conversations and music, we found we really do have something to celebrate and Toyota should be congratulated for supporting the production of these films that will be shared on social media across the country,” she said.
Felicity also won Traditional Country Album of the Year, won both the Apple Music Single of the Year and APRA AMCOS Song of the Year for Chain of Joy, a song recorded live as part of the Verandah sessions and was named as co-songwriter on Sing Me A Story, the Heritage Song of the Year won by Luke O’Shea & Lyn Bowtell.
Fanny Lumsden also recorded her song Real Men Don’t Cry (War On Pride) live during the Verandah sessions before being named the Golden Guitar Award winner for the CMC Video of the Year for the same song.
Now in its 48th year, the Toyota Golden Guitar Awards is Australia’s longest running music awards program and is presented annually by Tamworth Regional Council and the Country Music Association of Australia (CMAA).
Other winners recognised with Golden Guitar Awards at last night’s concert include Brad Butcher, Morgan Evans, Kevin Bennett & The Flood, Luke O’Shea & Lyn Bowtell, Allan Caswell, Rod McCormack, and Kristy Cox.
Toyota Australia’s Chief Marketing Officer, Wayne Gabriel said: “On behalf of Toyota Australia, we’d like to congratulate all of the finalists and winners of the 2020 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards for their outstanding musical achievements and contributions.”
“Toyota has been a proud partner of the Country Music Festival in Tamworth for 28 years, and we are thrilled to be able to continue our commitment to supporting country music in Australia from a grassroots level and beyond,” he said.