BATHURST country music performer Mickey Pye has won the prestigious Toyota Star Maker competition in Tamworth.
Pye has now joined the ranks of Australian country music stars like Keith Urban, Beccy Cole and Lee Kernaghan who were all previous winners.
Pye said he had been working towards this win ever since an unsuccessful bid in 2010.
He said instead of coming back every year to try his luck, he went away and started working hard to prove he was in it for the long haul.
In the meantime the 26-year-old started his own business, the Bathurst Academy of Music, to support a long-term career in music.
“I am so ready for this. I’ve had five years to prepare for it,” he said yesterday.
It is the second time in three years a musician living in Bathurst has taken out the award. Kaylee Bell won it in 2013. Last year’s winner Jared Porter lived for a time in Orange.
The Star Maker final was held on Friday and Pye performed two of his original songs Back Road and Hillbilly Girl.
He said Hillbilly Girl had a two-minute guitar solo and he believed it was this that set him apart.
“It has real fast chicken picks in it,” he said.
“It’s 11 years since the judges have heard that kind of playing.”
He said he was happy his family were able to be there for his Star Maker performances.
His sister Clancy was named Aristocrat Entertainer of the Year earlier in the week.
“Clancy and I have been coming up here for years - since we were old enough to drive,” he said.
“It has been so hard for us. We have both played for so many other musicians.
“Sometimes it feels like we have been helping other people’s careers over our own.
“It is such a great feeling to flip that around.
“It’s really nice that we got our chance in the end.”
Pye grew up in Oberon and has been living and working in Bathurst. He wants to thank both communities for their incredible support.
He believes that working the pub scene has made him and Clancy into seasoned performers.
“We have played in pubs almost every Friday and Saturday night since we were 18 years old,” he said.
“Getting people to listen and then holding their attention has really toughened us up.”
For his efforts Pye has won the use of a fully serviced Toyota and fuel for 12 months, an acoustic guitar and a trip to the country music capital of Nashville. He also gets to record an album, something he is excited about.
“I think not having an album has held me back over the years,” he said.
“All my friends had put something out, but it’s very expensive and I’ve never had the money.
“I have 15 songs that I recorded in Nashville with some of the top musicians in the business, but I never released them. I couldn’t afford to. I hope Star Maker will allow me to use them.
“I cannot thank Toyota enough for this opportunity.
“I intend to make an album that lasts.”
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