It’s hard to believe Irish-Australian performer Damien Leith first hit our TV screens in Australian Idol exactly one decade ago.
But unlike many of the show’s contestants, Leith has not faded into obscurity as the years have worn on.
Leith, then 30, was the oldest contestant to ever win the singing competition – coming in ahead of runner-up Jessica Mauboy.
The years that followed his win in 2006 were a whirlwind – he signed with Sony BMG and became a chart-topper in Australia and Ireland – living up his newfound fame.
More recently, in 2015 he went back to his roots, recording Songs from Ireland – an album of traditional Celtic classics. Earlier this year, he toured the country with a tribute show to his idol, Roy Orbison.
It is a crazy business, it’s unreliable, it’s like a rollercoaster. It’s (wise) preparing for the dips and preparing for when things change.
Last month, Leith launched yet another national tour, this time celebrating all the songs he performed while competing on Australian Idol.
The line-up of songs, which he released on his 2006 studio album The Winner’s Journey, includes the likes of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, Roy Orbison’s Crying, Split Enz’ Message to My Girl and Radiohead’s Creep.
Leith said longevity in the industry was not about luck, but about good planning.
“The first couple of years straight after Idol, I was taking it one day at a time. Things were changing so much and things were coming my way so I never thought too far ahead,” he said.
“Then about three years into it, I started really making plans and getting a handle on what the industry was all about and thinking about longevity. Because it is a crazy business, it’s unreliable, it’s like a rollercoaster – it’s up and down – all sorts of different things – so it’s preparing for the dips and preparing for when things change.”
Leith said one thing that hadn’t changed in the past 10 years was his love for music.
“Music’s always been something I’ve been driven to non-stop. But behind the scenes, what I love to do is sit down and write. I love getting lost in a story,” he said.
“It’s all about your passion first. Half the time I don’t write with any means to the end product, I just write because I love writing.”
Leith will perform at the Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts, September 30. To book, visit wcpa.com.au