When Lee Kernaghan attended his very first Tamworth Country Music Festival as a 13 year old little did he know it would lead to an incredibly successful and lucrative career.
Since that weekend in 1978, where Kernaghan would win Best Male Vocal Under 15 in the CCMA Talent Quest, he would go on to be mentored by the legendary Slim Dusty before then becoming a superstar in his own right, who now mentors the next wave of young talent.
J.A.M Zine spoke to Kernaghan ahead of this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival to reflect on its importance to his career.
“[Toyota Star Maker] was a life changing award for me because it set me on a path to a career in country music,” recalled Kernaghan, “When I look back on how things fell into place if it hadn’t been for the Star Maker Award I would probably be doing something else.”
Winning Star Maker not only cemented Kernaghan as a talent to watch but it also opened doors for him to meet some incredibly important names within the country music industry. Perhaps the most notable being the legendary Slim Dusty.
“When I was first starting off the great Slim Dusty took me under his wing and did me the great honour of recording a duet. Slim’s influence at that point in the performing part of my career was pivotal and I’ll be grateful to him forever.”
To show his gratitude Kernaghan is now passing along the knowledge he gained from both Slim Dusty and years of his own on the road to the next generation of artists by taking on a mentoring role himself.
“Over the years both myself and my manager Steve White have provided a hotline to winners of Star Maker. The mentoring role is something which I’m really happy to provide because the new talent is the future of our industry.”
Looking ahead to the 2019 iteration of the Tamworth Country Music Festival Kernaghan is quick to point out that it’s an event which is not only pivotal for musicians but also for music fans as well.
“It’s a right of passage! I don’t think you’re a fully fledged, fair dinkum Aussie until you’ve been to the Tamworth Country Music Festival at least once.”
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