JUST IN AWE: Tinbeerwah’s Jared Porter has won the coveted 2014 Star Maker quest at the Tamworth Country Music festival.
JUST IN AWE: Tinbeerwah’s Jared Porter has won the coveted 2014 Star Maker quest at the Tamworth Country Music festival. JOHN ELLIOTT

Porter bags Tamworth win

A SUNSHINE Coast musician with a love for honky-tonk and the blues has won one of country music's most sought-after crowns.

In front of thousands of fans in Tamworth on Friday night, Tinbeerwah's Jared Porter took out the coveted 2014 Star Maker quest.

The competition has launched the career of some of the biggest names in country music, including Caboolture's Keith Urban, and an excited Porter said he was thrilled to have his name added to the list.

"When heard my name I was ... just in awe," he said after sharing the spotlight with The McClymonts, Lee Kernaghan and The Wolfe Brothers during Friday night's awards.

"Everybody (the finalists) was just unreal. I watched them all from the side of the stage. I was ... shocked."

Born in the small northern Californian gold-mining town of Grass Valley, Porter grew up influenced by his singer-songwriter (and Elvis impersonator) father.

He moved to Australia when he was 15 and his mother remarried an Australian.

Soon after, he was involved in a serious rock-climbing accident that ruled out many of his sporting and outdoor pursuits.

It was then that his love of music came to the fore.

"I played rock 'n' roll and punk in high school, but was very unsatisfied," he said before Friday night's grand final performances.

"I've always listened to Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban ... I love it, it just makes sense."

Ten musicians were selected to go to Tamworth for the festival, with an initial concert whittled down to four for a final concert and vote.

While many friends and family, including wife Nikola, made it to Tamworth to see him win the prize, Porter's father watched via live feed in the US.

As Star Maker winner, Porter will receive a recording and distribution deal, a return trip to Nashville and a 12-month mentorship with Lee Kernaghan.

Now a student at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Porter also plans to record an album in 2014.

But first, he wants to enjoy the atmosphere of Tamworth in full country swing.

Previous Star Maker winners:

  • Lee Kernaghan (1982)
  • James Blundell (1987)
  • Keith Urban (1990)
  • Gina Jeffreys (1991)
  • Beccy Cole (1993)
  • Brendon Walmsley (1999)
  • Travis Collins (2004)
  • Samantha McClymont (2005)
  • Cat Southern (2006)
  • Kirsty Lee Akers (2007)
  • Talia Wittmann (2008)
  • Liam Brew (2009)
  • Luke Austen (2010)
  • Luke Dickens (2011)
  • Bob Corbett (2012)
  • Kaylee Bell (2013)