The Country Music Association of Australia is delighted to announce that multiple Grammy and ARIA Award winner Keith Urban, has established a scholarship for the CMAA Academy.
The inaugural recipient of the Keith Urban Scholarship is Heath Lancaster, who originally hails from Gladstone, near Kempsey.
The Academy program precedes Australia's largest music event - the Tamworth Country Music Festival, held each January in the nation's 'Country Music Capital'.
The two-week residential skills and career-development program was, and still is, a unique and world-leading initiative which has helped launch the careers of many of our current genre's stars including Sara Storer, The McClymonts, Travis Collins, Amber Lawrence and The Sunny Cowgirls to name just a few of the 500-plus artists who have graduated since the Academy was established 21 years ago.
"We chose Heath as the first recipient of this special scholarship as he has shown great musical talent and potential as an all-round artist - as a musician, singer and songwriter," The Academy director Lyn Bowtell said.
"The Academy staff members can see a bright musical future for Heath if he chooses to pursue it as a career."
Keith's stellar career began in 1990 when the then 22-year-old won Australia's premier talent search competition, Star Maker at the Tamworth festival.
Following the 1991 release of his self-titled debut album that produced four charting singles, Keith relocated to Nashville.
The rest, as they say, is history with every possible award - including US Entertainer of The Year (in 2005 and 2018), establishing him as one of the brightest stars in the world's largest music market and one of our most successful music exports ever.
Many of The Academy graduates have targeted Toyota Star Maker as the first rung on the ladder to success, with fourteen of the past twenty winners of the prestigious title having come through the program.
The program focuses on songwriting, presentation and career/business skills and features guest lectures and mentoring by our leading artists - many of them ex-graduates themselves.
On receiving the news, CMAA President Dobe Newton, who helped establish The Academy, was pleased to present the award.
"This generosity is typical of the man who has never forgotten the part Tamworth played in launching his stellar career, typified by an unscheduled gig on his Australian tour last year to assist the many thousands of farmers, rural workers and communities affected by drought," he said.
"The Keith Urban Scholarship will create a lasting legacy and hopefully allow a talented and determined young artist to follow in his footsteps. Thanks mate."