Tamworth Country Music Festival has a history of nurturing and creating opportunities for new country artists and songwriters.

From the humble buskers lining Peel Street to the big opportunities provided to the Toyota Star Marker winners, you just never know when you may be witnessing the beginning of something very special.

Today we profile four well-known acts whose current success can, in some part, be traced back to their experiences at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Ashleigh Dallas

Ashleigh is the third generation of a Tamworth Country Music family dynasty.

Born and bred in Tamworth, Ashleigh grew up listening to the musical sounds of her family – Roll of Renown recipient and Golden Guitar winner Rex Dallas and Golden Guitar winner, producer, multi-instrumentalist father Brett Dallas.

She continues to live in the region with a young family of her own.

Dallas has been performing in Tamworth all her life and studied at the CMAA Academy of Country Music in 2009 and 2010.

Following the release of her debut album Dancing With A Ghost in 2013, she won a Golden Guitar for New Talent of the Year in 2014.

She won another Golden Guitar for Traditional Country Album of the Year in 2018.

And she’s also up for two awards at the 2020 Golden Guitar awards following the release of her latest album Reflection.

Check out ‘Vacation’ by Ashleigh Dallas:

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Charlie Collins

Collins (pictured) is another artist born and bred in the Tamworth region. She’s become the new Alt-Country act of the moment, following her ARIA nomination for Best Country Album for her stunning solo debut album, Snowpine.

As a teenager Collins played in the country/rock band The Baileys with her brother (now manager, Kurt Bailey), her sister and other friends.

They became a must-see act for locals and festival goers for many years and from that, the band eventually released an album with EMI Music under the new name, Chasing Bailey.

Following that release, Collins and her now husband Chris formed the alternative-rock band Tigertown, which also had considerable success.

However, her just released single ‘I Don’t Want To Be In A Rock Band’ indicates that Collins is feeling more comfortable telling her stories as a solo artist.

“It’s been a long journey exploring different genres while fronting numerous bands,” she recently told Billboard.

“During this time, I never quite felt like myself and almost resented who I was becoming — until I decided to stop writing to fit into a certain scene, but to step out on my own and write freely, to express myself musically with what comes naturally. Still, sometimes it’s hard not to compare yourself to others. This song is about me fighting that battle and reminding myself of who I am and where my roots lie.”

As well as performing her own show at the festival, Collins will also open for Cold Chisel! 

Check out ‘I Don’t Want To Be In A Rock Band’ by Charlie Collins:

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Morgan Evans

Not only was Morgan Evans a nominee for the recent ARIA Awards, he was the winner of the Best Country Album award.

Evans is enjoying one of the most successful periods of success experienced by any Australian country act in the last decade.

He’s recently had a #1 single in the USA with ‘Kiss Somebody,’ a #1 all-genre single on Australian commercial radio with ‘Day Drunk’ and his latest album Things That We Drink To is still in the top 5 on the ARIA Country Albums chart after 58 weeks.

His new single ‘Diamonds’ is proving to be a massive hit as well.

And it was Tamworth, where Evans was originally discovered.

In 2006, he entered the Telstra Road To Tamworth competition (a competition also won by three-time ARIA nominee Jasmine Rae) and came third.

Two years later, he entered again and won.

Winning the competition connected Evans with his future co-managers Rob Potts (who originally created the TRTT concept) and Kerry Roberts (who continues to oversee his Australian activities at present).

In 2016 Evans hosted the Golden Guitar awards and this January he has four award nominations for the 2020 Golden Guitar awards, including Album of the Year (for Things We Drink To) and Single of the Year for ‘Young Again.’

Check out Morgan Evans performing ‘Day Drunk’ at the 2019 ARIA Awards:

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Brad Cox

The success of Brad Cox in the past two years is great testament to the tremendous platform Toyota Star Maker competition can give it’s winners.

In 2018 he won the competition previously won by the likes of Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, Gina Jeffreys, Travis Collins and Beccy Cole.

Prior to entering and winning the contest, Cox had developed an artistic direction and dedicated following on his own.

However the exposure and opportunities afforded him as a result of winning Star Maker has helped take his career to the next level.

At this year’s Tamworth festival he played his first ticketed show to over 400 people and things have continued to take off from there.

Cox recently signed a record deal with Sony Music Australia and he’s scored over 4 million audio streams already.

“The end game is to be as successful as I can on global scale, particularly Nashville,” says Cox. 

Check out ‘Rusty Strings’ by Brad Cox:

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With over 700 acts set to perform at the 2020 Tamworth Country Music Festival, you just never know who will be the next young star to emerge from what is not only one of Australia’s biggest festivals, but one of the biggest country music festivals in the world!