Ever wondered where those elusive Australian Idol winners of yesteryear disappeared to?
Well, with the exception of the omnipresent Guy Sebastian, maybe. More than a decade on from that famous first season, we’ve tracked down some of Australian Idol‘s favourite – and forgotten – stars.
Season 1 (2003): Guy Sebastian
Whether you’re Team Guy all the way or still maintain that Shannon ‘Nollsy’ Noll was robbed of the title, there’s no denying that Guy has gone on to do great things. Since becoming the first Australian Idol, he’s won four ARIAs, had no less than 51 platinum certifications and sung at Eurovision.
His most recent smash hit was ‘Battle Scars’ with Lupe Fiasco in 2012, and he’s just finished judging the most recent season of The X Factor: Next Generation. He’s married to the gorgeous Jules Sebastian and has two boys.
Season 2 (2004): Casey Donovan
Casey Donovan won the second season of Idol at just 16 – the youngest act to do so. After Idol, she decided to go indie and establish herself as a solo act under her own steam. She was one of Australia’s most promising indigenous artists at the time, but wasn’t able to follow up Sebastian’s chart success.
Donovan was cast as Cynthia in the 2010 production of The Sapphires and returned to music the same year, releasing two singles: ‘Big, Beautiful And Sexy’ and ‘Last Regret’, which attracted commercial airplay but little more.
These days, she’s deeply involved in the indigenous community and still floating around the theatre scene so we’d say she’s doing pretty well.
Season 3 (2005): Kate DeAraugo
Kate DeAraugo, unfortunately, is not one of the success stories to come out of Idol. Her first album debuted at number ten on the ARIA charts and stayed in the top 50 for eight weeks. She joined the group Young Divas (anyone else remember them?), but despite multi-platinum success, the group disbanded in 2008.
DeAraugo underwent a very public struggle with her weight – not helped by the tabloids and glossy magazines – and suffered depression and a serous drug addiction. She was arrested and charged with driving under the influence last year, and has reportedly been trying to get her life back on track.
Season 4 (2006): Damien Leith
Ah, the charming Irishman! Damien Leith beat the lovely Jess Mauboy to the top spot that year, and has forged a fairly successful career in the ten years since.
A jack of all trades, he’s released eight albums (earning him seven platinums and one gold certification), written two novels and is currently touring to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his live album The Winner’s Journey. He’s also now an Australian citizen for any of you who remember the controversy around that, and a regular on the local gig circuit (he’s playing at Penrith Panthers on Friday night, if you’re interested).
Season 5 (2007): Natalie Gauci
Another winner who never quite made it as far as the runner-up. Natalie beat Matt Corby (yes, that Matt Corby) in Season 5 and has been pretty quiet in recent years. She split from Sony in 2009 and formed electropop group Tune In Tokyo with producer Paul Brandoli. Like DeAraugo, she underwent a battle with drugs after her 15 minutes of fame.
Gauci also tried her hand at acting, with a cameo in the 2011 film Big Mamma’s Boy. Her last album was released in 2012, a jazz project about her life and divorce. She’s spent time touring in Europe and now lives in London, where she performed as Nellie Bell until last year. You can see her at The Brass Monkey on Thursday January 12.
Season 6 (2008): Wes Carr
Who else remembers those golden locks and that trademark trilby?
Wes Carr has pretty much gone silent since the release of his second album for Sony, The Way The World Looks, in 2009. He split with the label in 2011 and went independent, releasing an EP called Blood & Bone under the pseudonym Buffalo Tales the following year.
Carr put out the single ‘Amsterdam’ from his first album as Buffalo Tales, but it didn’t chart. However, his cover of Diamonds by Rihanna did receive some attention after Sia praised it on Twitter.
Season 7 (2009): Stan Walker
Stan Walker is definitely another Idol success story, at least in New Zealand, and just like Sebastian, has gone on to release smash hits and become a judge on The X Factor. He’s a staple on the NZ music scene and has also dabbled in acting, playing roles in Kiwi films Mount Zion and Born To Dance.
He opened for Nicki Minaj in 2012 on her Australian tour for Pink Friday and for Beyoncé at the Auckland and Perth shows of her Mrs. Carter Show tour in 2013. We reckon that’s pretty freakin’ beast (to use the vernacular). But it’s still no Nollsy.