CESSNOCK singer-songwriter Travis Collins spoke of his pride in the Australian country music community after he won his eighth Golden Guitar on Saturday night.
Collins won best male artist for the third time at the 49th Country Music Association of Australia awards, for his 2020 album Wreck Me.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Tamworth Country Music Festival was officially cancelled and the awards night was socially-distanced and only open to industry figures and musicians.
"There's so much incredible talent out there at the moment," Collins said. "I'm honoured to be in this finalist category.
"Despite a really disturbed and crazy time, I think this room managed to put out some of the best standard of country music we've seen in a long time, so I'm proud to be a part of this community.
"The real thrill about winning a Golden Guitar is it's voted by your peers - the people you looked up to, the people who taught you to write songs, the people who taught you to write guitar licks."
Kurri Kurri's Kirsty Lee Akers won vocal collaboration of the year with Aleyce Simmonds, Amber Lawrence and Dianna Corcoran for their rendition of John Williamson's True Blue, dedicated to Australia's frontline medical workers.
Akers, Simmonds and Lawrence performed the song live at the Golden Guitars and were joined virtually by the US-based Corcoran.
Former Newcastle musician Melody Moko claimed best new talent for her song Like Hank Would off her second album Two Kids & A Radio.
The heavily-pregnant Moko paid tribute to his husband and fellow musician Michael Muchow.
"I had this whole thing about getting up here and on my own and doing it as a woman," Moko said joined on stage by Muchow.
"Because for a long time in an industry full of men, and a wonderful amazing man who stands besides me, I felt that I was just someone's girlfriend. Winning this has made me realise I can stand on my own and do this."
Fanny Lumsden was the major winner on the night, claiming five Golden Guitars for her third record Fallow, including album of the year, alt country album and female artist.
The McClymonts won best group or duo and contemporary country album of the year for Mayhem To Madness.