The Macleay has its very own star in the making after Heath Lancaster was named a finalist in the Toyota Star Maker competition.
Selected out of almost 100 entries, Heath will go up against nine other aspiring artists at the Country Music Festival in Tamworth, January 2022.
Smithtown born and bred, Heath said he was taken aback when he found out he was a finalist.
"I'm just so excited and incredibly grateful to have this opportunity and to be along side the other incredible artists who have been chosen," Lancaster said.
"It's a really high standard this year, I think all the artists could easily win, so I can't wait for January."
Lancaster, who is also a talented rugby player, was playing for the Warringah Rats colts side before COVID hit.
"COVID sent me home and I've been home ever since doing as many gigs and performances as I can," Lancaster said.
"I've always played music and sang alongside rugby. It got hard to do both and I just have a real passion for it, and I thought I'd follow that passion.
"I also have an equal passion for rugby, but I just felt like I just had to pursue music."
Launching the careers of some of Australia's best country stars, like Keith Urban and Lee Kernaghan, the Toyota Star Maker is the nation's longest running and most respected country music competitions.
Coordinator Cheryl Brown said after the competition's cancellation in 2021, it was a huge thrill to be able to run the event again.
"This year's top ten are a truly inspiring and talented bunch, who come from a diverse range of backgrounds and talents, who've also managed to continue with their craft despite the past 18-months," Mrs Brown said.
"I have no doubt that the 2022 grand final concert will be one tough, but exciting competition."
The Star Maker Grand Final is one of the biggest events of the annual Toyota Country Music Festival and is on Sunday, January 16, 2022, at Toyota Park Tamworth.
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