Casey Donovan sprang into our lives in 2004 when she was crowned the winner of Australian Idol. It is now 17 years later, and Casey has forged her own unique path through the entertainment and music industry. After speaking to her recently, it is clear that the best is yet to come for her.
In a short space of time, Casey has achieved a lot: solo tours, musical theatre, TV, lending her name and support to a number of charitable and non-profit organisations in her roles as Ambassador for RU OK, MMAD and Camp Quality and Advocate for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, Starlight Children’s Foundation, and as one of the founding members of the New South Wales Indigenous Chamber of Commerce.
“Some days I do ask how I got here. It overflows a page when you write down my career, and it’s amazing being almost 33 and having achieved so many things. It’s definitely been a great career so far. I’ve been able to go through a reality TV show and come out the other side, grow up and explore what music means to me and my life, and I got to explore musical theatre, television, touring, supporting acts like Cyndi Lauper (which was amazing!). I’ve certainly done a lot so far, but there’s still so much I want to do.”
When you watch Casey perform, music just oozes out of her. I was curious to find out if music has always played a big part of her life.
“It certainly has. Pretty much whatever was on the radio or TV when I grew up, I would listen to, then sit in my bedroom and just sing. Music became a huge part of my life when I got to high school and I realised that I could sing but didn’t know what my full potential was. I gave it a go, and a few years later I was performing on Australian Idol.”
Australian Idol kick started Casey’s career, like so many others: Guy Sebastian, Paulini, and Rob Mills to name a few. With the sheer volume of reality shows on television these days, it’s interesting to see how these shows have changed from being about the talent to being more about the back story.
“I did Idol so young. It was only the second show of its kind, and when you look back it’s now been nearly 15 years. These shows have certainly evolved and it’s all about the backstory and the strong editing, so I was thankful I was 16 when I did the show because I have now been able to evolve myself as an entertainer and performer and understand my craft. It’s been absolutely amazing to see where I’ve come from to where I am now, and the confidence that I’ve built. Over the many years I have evolved as a performer, which not many people get to do when they do these shows. You usually have to go into it already knowing your craft and what you need to do and how to achieve it.”
When Casey performs, you cannot help but smile and share her love and joy for music.
“One thing I love about music – that I have always loved, and always will – is that it can connect people. If you’re up there not knowing or being comfortable in who you are as a person or performer, it does come across. The one thing I love about music is sharing the joy and the stories. I give it my all. I never do anything half arsed, which annoys me to the nth degree when you’re in a theatre show doing 8 shows a week. Me being me, If I’m not doing 100%, I’m not doing it right. I just love performing, and I love bringing joy to people’s faces, especially at the Carols. It means so much to many people for many different reasons, and if you can bring a smile and a bit of a boogie to someone’s life, it doesn’t cost anything to make someone smile. And that’s what I love about music, I love telling stories. I love to entertain. Even if no one is there, I love to entertain myself. I often crack myself up throughout the day and no-one’s there to enjoy the joke I’ve told myself. I love what music does and how it can connect people.”
The last 12 months have hit the Australian Arts industry hard, and like so many other performers, Casey really missed the performing and connecting with the audience.
“I missed everything. I missed performing, I missed telling stories and jokes and sharing that in the same vicinity as other people. The entertainment world got absolutely rooted last year and most of the gigs I’m doing now are gigs I was supposed to do last year. Thankfully they were postponed and not cancelled. I’ve missed it so much, and there’s now this newfound love for it again. It has reminded me to never take anything for granted. I live in the moment. It’s different now, the crowds are different. Everyone’s hungry for entertainment and to be just transported out of their lives for a few hours. It’s beautiful. It’s a wonderful energy and we can feel it on stage.”
This Friday, 16 April, Casey will be performing a very intimate and special show, Bluesday At The Regal, at the stunning Regal Theatre.
“After COVID and everything that’s happened in the last year and a bit, it will be great to get back on stage in a very unplugged way. I do a show called ‘Bluesday Tuesday’ on my Facebook page, which I do every Tuesday night if I can, and when I got asked if I wanted to do a show in Adelaide, I knew I wanted to do a Bluesday and just sing songs that I love and I’m comfortable with. I’ll be donning the guitar for the show, which brings another level of me to the stage and kind of takes me back to 16 year-old Casey, which is something that not a lot of people get to see or witness. I jumped at the chance to create a little show that is just perfectly imperfect me.
“I’ll also be joined by Brenton Foster on piano, which I’m excited about. We’re just finalising the arrangements and getting charts and the good stuff sorted. It will be such a great night. It’s going to be nice to do something that is very intimate, authentic and real, and very me.”
Casey Donovan – Bluesday At The Regal, presented by Roulette Shows, will be performing at The Regal Theatre, 275 Kensington Rd, for one show only, Friday 16 April at 8pm. Full details and bookings can be made at www.rouletteshows.com.au or https://www.trybooking.com/BODRP
Interview by Ben Stefanoff