Back when a young Damien Leith was trying to crack into the Australian entertainment industry, an associate told him he needed to ‘‘lose the Irish accent’’.
The Dublin-born entertainer was willing to give anything a try, but putting on an Aussie accent did not go too well.
‘‘I do an awful Australian accent, it was pointless,’’ Leith said.
Over the phone from his Sydney recording studio he busted out a ‘‘g’day mate’’ that sounded like an American’s impersonation of an Australian.
Thankfully he stuck to his guns and burst into the Aussie entertainment industry back in 2006 when he won Australian Idol, all while keeping his distinctive Irish accent.
Next month he will perform his first show in Mooroopna, a special show that pays tribute to one of his favourite entertainers, the late Roy Orbison.
Leith said people should not expect him to impersonate the great singer like a Vegas Elvis show. Instead, he wanted to put his own spin on the classics.
‘‘I don’t try to be him or act like him. I put my own stamp on the songs,’’ he said.
‘‘If I didn’t, then people may as well just go and listen to the originals.’’
Leith first won widespread acclaim for his take on Roy Orbison’s songs back in 2011 when he released the album Roy, which eventually went platinum.
He said the idea to do an album of covers was not his own, and actually came about after a request from Orbison’s widow Barbara.
‘‘Barbara was looking after everything to do with the Orbison estate, and they saw everything that went up on YouTube,’’ Leith said.
‘‘I did Crying back on Australian Idol and they got in touch with the producers and that was the start of it.’’
With so many other winners from Idol and other talent shows falling away from the limelight, Leith has stayed in demand, releasing eight albums and touring constantly.
He said his longevity might come down to his versatility — since 2006 he has acted, presented TV shows, written novels and even performed in a critically-acclaimed theatre production.
‘‘I’ve always loved acting but it was all a bit of a gamble,’’ he said.
Although he said he enjoyed performing more than anything, Leith said people might see his name in some unexpected places in the future.
‘‘I do a lot of co-writing sessions with established acts and new acts,’’ he said.
‘‘I even won a Golden Guitar two weeks ago for a song I wrote with Travis Collins.
‘‘It is great to be able to get into that creative zone and move on to the next project.’’
Damien Leith will perform Roy — A Tribute to Roy Orbison at Riverlinks WestSide at Mooroopna on Saturday, March 4.
For bookings, phone 58329511.