Damien Leith returns to Dee Why
We claim Damien Leith as our own - and why not? Yes, he's as Irish as a leprechaun enjoying a pint of Guinness while watching an episode of Father Ted, but he has also won Australian Idol, been presented with Australian citizenship by John Howard, and now resides in Sydney with his wife and three kids.
During the reality TV singing contest in 2006, Mr Leith notched a record four 'touchdowns' from judge Mark Holden (the ultimate accolade for a performance). Spine-tingling renditions of Halleluja and Crying, in particular, made him an overnight sensation in living rooms across Australia. Not only did he win the fourth season of Idol but he relegated chart- topping pop artist Jessica Mauboy to runner-up.
Mr Leith freely attributes his success to the Australian public.
"To be doing what I do on a full-time basis - that was always my dream and it's happened here in Australia. It was a surprise and I'm really grateful," he tells Peninsula Living.
Since then, the County Kildare-born singer/songwriter has tried his hand at just about everything creative. He's recorded six albums, written two novels, hosted TV programs and is currently performing a cabaret show, which he wrote himself called The Parting Glass: An Irish Journey.
Featuring classic songs from his latest album Songs from Ireland like Danny Boy and Raglan Road, the stage show is about the reunion of a father and son - and Mr Leith plays both roles.
The good news for fans on the peninsula is that he'll be returning to Dee Why RSL Club on June 20 to perform the critically-acclaimed production.
And he can't wait to get back to the venue, where most recently he wowed audiences with his stirring tribute to the legendary Roy Orbison.
"I've been to Dee Why RSL Club many times, actually. I've done a lot of shows and I've got a lot of friends that have played there as well. It's always a great show and it's always a great place to play and a great audience," he says.
He has also spent a lot of his down time in Dee Why since moving to Sydney, frequenting the beach and local cafes.
"I love the beaches. My mother-in-law actually used to work in Dee Why in an old folks' home. She was working there for a long, long time and I used to drop her over on so many occasions so Dee Why was a regular spot for us," he reveals.
And he expects his Irish show to be well received when it comes to the peninsula on June 20.
"Doing an Irish show like this, there's so many people that can identify with Ireland from Australia, as there is a long Irish-Australian history there. Also, I think the sense of humour, and the way they get into the show and really respect what's happening on stage is very similar in both countries," he says.
"The reaction to the show so far has been incredible, we've had people crying and people laughing - it's really exceeded my expectations."
The multi-talented performer is showing no sign of slowing down either.
"I'm a bit of a workaholic. Once I get an idea into my head about something, I need to make it happen, so there's a lot of late nights but I love what I do," he reflects.