Casey Donovan (singer)

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Casey Donovan
Birth name Casey Donovan
Born (1988-05-13) 13 May 1988 (age 28)
Origin Bankstown, New South Wales, Australia[1]
Genres Pop, rock, Folk
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, Actress, Author
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 2004–present
Labels Sony BMG (2004–2006)
Independent (2006–present)
Associated acts Guy Sebastian, Kate DeAraugo, Damien Leith, Natalie Gauci
Website Official website

Casey Donovan (born 13 May 1988) is an Australian singer, theatre actress and author, best known for winning the second season of the singing competition show Australian Idol. She won the competition at age 16, becoming the series' youngest winner.

Early life[edit]

Casey Donovan was born in Bankstown, New South Wales in 1988, to a family that included several relatives with musical careers, including her father, who along with his brothers is a member of indigenous country band The Donovans. After her parents divorced, her mother and siblings moved in with stepfather Norm Axford. Growing up, Casey was always interested in singing and performing. Contact with the Donovan cousins fostered interest in both singing and playing guitar, which led to busking on the streets of Tamworth during the Country Music Festival when she was 10. Casey's musical interest was noticed at Bass Hill Public School and Georges Hall Primary but was not enough to have any public notice. It was not until attending Condell Park High that her talent became noticed and was supported especially by both her mother and stepfather.

Donovan on her ancestry

It's really hard. I'm half white, half Aboriginal. I'm proud to be white, and I'm proud to be Aboriginal. It's just there is a juggle there. There's lots of people who are on one side and I'm like what about my mum and her family?[2]

Australian Idol (2004)[edit]

Donovan transferred to the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney's Surry Hills in 2004 and it was in this year that her stepfather encouraged her to audition for the second season of Australian Idol. While Donovan performed well throughout the Australian Idol competition and received countless praise from all three judges for her flawless performances and studio standard vocals, she was not widely considered a favorite to win. During the competition she received some outside success and won the Most Promising New Talent Award at the 2004 The Deadlys, which honours indigenous talent in Australia. Nevertheless, she surprised many by being the first to get through to the 2004 final, where she defeated widespread favorite Anthony Callea. However, her success was marred by a typographical mistake by Australian Idol sponsor Telstra, in a half page nationally run newspaper advertisement including what was assumed to be her website. The link was a memorial for a dead pornography actor of the same name.[3] Telstra apologised for the error.

Despite her record sales being lower than other Idol finalists such as Season 1 winner Guy Sebastian, Season 1 runner-up Shannon Noll and even her own runner-up Anthony Callea, Donovan has achieved five Platinum accreditations, making her the eighth highest selling Australian Idol alumnus overall.

Australian Idol performances[edit]

Week Theme Song Sung Artist Status
Audition N/A "A Millon Tears" Kasey Chambers Selected
Theatre Round
Day 1
N/A (a cappella) 6,8,12 Brian McKnight Advanced
Theatre Round
Day 2
Group Performance "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" with Emelia Rusciano, Liza Schulberg and Yasmine Dia Stevie Wonder Advanced
Theatre Round
Day 3
Solo Performance "Exodus" Evanescence Advanced
Top 30 Semifinal Group #3 "Here's Where I Stand" (Touchdown) Tiffany Taylor Advanced
Top 12 Australian-Made Music "Symphony of Life" Tina Arena Safe
Top 11 Pop Music "Don't Speak" No Doubt Safe
Top 10 Songs of the Sixties "Somebody to Love" Jefferson Airplane Safe
Top 9 Disco Hits "Shake Your Groove Thing" Peaches & Herb Safe
Top 8 Idol's Choice "Special Ones" (Touchdown) George Safe
Top 7 Lennon–McCartney "Eleanor Rigby" The Beatles Safe
Top 6 Songs of the Eighties "The Flame" Cheap Trick Bottom 2
Top 5 Songs of R&B "Beautiful" (Touchdown) India.Arie Safe
Top 4 Music of Big Band "Why Don't You Do Right?"
"Come Fly with Me"
Peggy Lee
Frank Sinatra
Top 3 Songs of the Seventies "You're So Vain"(Touchdown)
"Misty Blue"
Carly Simon
Dorothy Moore
Finale Idol's Choice
Idol's Choice
Idol Winner's Single
"Take Me as I Am"
"Listen with Your Heart"
Vanessa Amorosi
(winner's single)

Post-Idol career[edit]

Donovan is a multi-award winner and nominee, including an ARIA No #1 Award for "Listen with Your Heart" and Deadly Awards for Best Album, Best Single and Most Promising New Talent.

While riding the Australian Idol wave, Donovan was one of Australia's most in-demand entertainers, with regular appearances on television, radio and seen in print media across Australia. Donovan was also a star performer for many major events, including – Commonwealth Games, Woodfood Dreaming Festival and Foxtel's 10th Birthday.

After the hype of Australian Idol died down, Donovan spent time re-evaluating her career and re-establishing herself as a solo independent artist, with the release of the independent EP Eye 2 Eye. Donovan also re-established herself as one of Australia's most promising Indigenous entertainers, with regular appearances on Vibe Alive Tours and a regular segment on Deadly Sounds with Rhoda Roberts.

While starring in the successful concept show Women of Soul, Donovan was approached by Rhoda Roberts for the theatrical production of Miracle in Brisbane for the Brisbane Festival in October 2009.[4]

In 2010, Donovan was cast in the role of Cynthia in a musical stage production of The Sapphires which saw the show tour Australia throughout the first half of 2010. Donovan won praise from the critics for her role in the production, which was presented by Company B Belvoir and Black Swan State Theatre Company. Donovan went on to take home the Best Supporting Actress award at the 4th Daegu International Music Festival Awards while on tour with the production in South Korea in July 2010.

Donovan returned to music with the release of her single "Big, Beautiful & Sexy" written with songwriter Beau Golden, in August 2010, which went on to reach #9 in the AIR Charts. "Big, Beautiful and Sexy" has also become an anthem for larger women. The song also saw Donovan's online Facebook support group Big, Beautiful & Sexy (which attracted nearly 2000 fans in its first weeks) grow to over 10000 fans. Donovan herself has lost over 20 kg and continued her support of larger men and women as they achieve their life goals. Donovan went on to release another single in November 2010 titled "Last Regret" which saw the continuation of support from fans and media, and also gained some commercial airplay.[5]

In December 2010, Donovan was nominated for two awards in the 2010 Sydney Theatre Awards for "Newcomer" and "Supporting Actress", continuing to receive praise and recognition from the industry for her work in The Sapphires.[6] Although she auditioned for a role in the 2011 movie version, Donovan was not cast.[7]

2011 saw Donovan reprise her role of Cynthia Macrae in another tour of the hit show The Sapphires. The tour ran during February in ACT and NSW, and was followed by two weeks in the UK in March.[8]

In August/September 2011, Donovan created the role of Mama Cass in the world premiere of new musical Flowerchildren - the The Mamas & the Papas Story written by Peter Fitzpatrick and produced by Australian company Magnormos. She was joined by Matt Hetherington as John Phillips, Laura Fitzpatrick as Michelle Phillips, and Dan Humphris as Denny Doherty.[9]

In January 2017, Donovan was revealed as a celebrity contestant on the Australian version of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

Personal life[edit]

Donovan lends her name and support to a number of charitable and non-profit organisations. Donovan is an Ambassador for APRA/AMCOS and an Advocate for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. Donovan is well known for supporting her fans, it is widely acknowledged that she appreciates her number one fans Thomas Picton and Nicholas White. She quoted in an interview with AusIdol magazine in 2011 'I wouldn't be half the woman I am now if it wasn't for those two, they have supported me since day one and I cannot thank them enough'. From 2004 Donovan was a victim of a six-year-long hoax telephone relationship with a persona named Campbell, constructed by a woman named Olga.[10]


Studio albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart
For You 2

Extended plays[edit]

List of EPs, with selected details
Title Details
Eye 2 Eye
  • Released: 1 January 2008
  • Format: CD, digital download
  • Label: Independent


List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications, showing year released and album name
Year Title Peak chart
Certifications Album
2004 "Listen with Your Heart" 1
  • ARIA: 2× Platinum[13]
For You
2005 "What's Going On" 18
"Flow" 51
2010 "Big, Beautiful & Sexy" Non-album singles
"Last Regret"
— denotes releases that failed to chart.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Guy Sebastian
Australian Idol

Season 2 (2004)
Succeeded by
Kate DeAraugo