Hope William-Smith

Damien Leith rose to sudden fame after winning the fourth season of Australian Idol with a sincere and powerful rendition of Ben Harper’s classic, ‘Waiting on an Angel’. Now, almost a decade on, Leith is touring the country with a tribute show to American country and rockabilly star Roy Orbison. Titled ‘Roy – A Tribute to Roy Orbison’, it is a reprisal of the Irish-born musician’s 2011 show that earned him an ARIA. With a diverse ability across a range of music styles, Leith has a strong affinity with the unique and signature style of Roy Orbison’s music, even recording the tribute with the late Barbara Orbison.

“It was incredible to have her support and confidence in me, especially in interpreting Roy’s songs and giving them my own stamp… I’m paying tribute in my own way to these great songs.”

For many artists, the chance to perform a tribute act of a lifelong idol is an honour. For Leith, approaching a performance of Orbison’s music is an exciting and entirely different concept from presenting his own music on stage.

“Roy had a unique style and incredible voice. He is dramatic, sometimes melancholy, sometimes lifted… He just had a totally unique way of structuring songs,” says Leith, who used to practice his singing skills to Orbison’s classics as a child.

“We have a different tone and a different sound, but for loyal fans of his music I’m staying very true to his sounds.”

Coinciding with what would have been Orbison’s 80th birthday, audiences of the 2016 rerun can expect an even larger and more spectacular show than its predecessor. Leith aims to build an atmosphere where people of all ages can sing along in a celebration of Orbison’s musical life.

“There is such a broad audience here, including a whole younger generation, and that can appeal to so many different people. Australians really sit and listen to each and
every note.”

After the opportunities gained from his idol success, Leith is looking forward to his next chapter of work, in which he aims to move into a teaching role within the production arena.

“My studio here in Sydney has really opened up and seems to be getting more and more interest, I’m producing a lot of new and up and coming acts.”

In addition to his numerous television presenting and performing roles, Damien is also the author of the contemporary fiction suspense novel, One More Time. The only downside to his widespread success is the time away from home. But for Damien, missing his family in Dublin has become a strong motivator for achieving recognition on an international scale.

“I always set goals, I have planned right through until the middle of next year. I’m a big believer of moving forwards and focusing on things you really want to achieve. It keeps me motivated and focused.”

Damien Leith’s award-winning show ‘Roy – A Tribute to Roy Orbison’ airs at The Concourse, Chatswood April 22.