FEW rising stars in the music industry boast a story like X Factor contestant Justin Standley, making his first appearance at the Gympie Music Muster on Tuesday.
Mr Standley shot to fame on last year's season of the hit show when he battled the nation's best talent to make the final 12 and live performances.
The country music artist wowed the judges and show producers with his talent, but admitted stardom was not why he auditioned.
"I first auditioned to try and find my daughters (Charlotte, 16 and Ophelia, 19)," Mr Standley said.
"I had been looking for 12 years to find my kids and I was desperate."
The X Factor's star first audition on the hit show was enthusiastically received and he was told he would be going to boot camp.
Mr Standley laughs reflecting back on his response.
"I had to pretend to be excited because when they said boot camp, I thought I was going to lose weight for the show," he said.
"I had no idea what to expect I was so naive."
Soon Mr Standley was in New York and the show was becoming "very real".
"I tried to pull out because I thought I had done enough to get some exposure to contact my daughters," he said.
But X Factor producers weren't having any of it.
"They talked me around and wanted me to continue because I was unique on the show," Mr Standley said.
As the show's oldest contested to make the final 12 and appear on the live shows, Mr Standley's mission to find his daughters came to fruition.
Charlotte was having an X Factor night with her friends when her father walked on to the stage.
"Wouldn't it be cool if this was my Dad. I hope he finds his kids," she said when the show informed the audience of Mr Standley's search.
As soon as Mr Standley's surname flashed on the screen, Charlotte started crying and became convinced she had found her father.
The X Factor contestant received 800 Facebook messages in five minutes following his live performance and one message was from Charlotte's friend who sent a phone number.
An emotional reunion soon followed.
Mr Standley's career now continues to unfold and he is at his first Muster performing one if the nation's fastest selling country singles - A Father's Love.
The title track, a personal and emotional ballot, is from the musician's debut album available for purchase at the Muster exclusively ahead of the official release next month.
"There's a special feel at the Muster and I love it," he said.
The X Factor graduate says he still feels like a "shag on a rock" but once an unwilling star, hard work is bringing its fair share of reward.
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