Monday, November 24, 2008

He's Gone A Long Way

Werribee's most famous son.

By Allyson Fonseca
25th November 2008

WERRIBEE crooner Anthony Callea has come a long way since his waitering days at Watton St’s Raffael’s Cafe.

Callea, 25, rose to prominence as a runner-up in the 2004 season of Australian Idol.

The song now synonymous with his name, The Prayer, remains the fastest and highest selling Australian single, four times going platinum and selling more than 280,000 copies.

“I still love seeing the reaction from the crowd when I get out and sing The Prayer,” Mr Callea said.

“It’s like they’re all on the edge of their seats, going, ‘Is he going to make that note?’”

But Callea has not turned his back on his old stamping ground.

“Growing up in Werribee was great,” said Callea, who was educated at Corpus Christi primary school and MacKillop College.

“My uncle used to have a law firm there, so as kids we’d spend time hanging out in Watton St. Every Sunday after church, my mum would go to Bruno’s Deli to get fresh meat.
People always go, ‘Oh you lived in Werribee; that’s so far away’ – but it’s so not.
I’ve got family and friends still in the area, so I’m always there, popping in and out."

“Sometimes I get bizarre looks from people. Unfortunately, it’s always the days when you look like crap that you get recognised.”

Up until January, Callea continues to play Boq in the musical Wicked, except on Saturday 6 December when he will perform live at Melbourne’s Crown Casino.

Callea’s partner and stage/screen entertainer, Tim Campbell, will also appear on stage for a special guest performance.

In 2007, Callea was inadvertently outed in a Sydney radio gossip segment by an announcer and acquaintance who thought the singer's sexuality was common knowledge.

But Callea was unfazed by the subsequent controversy.

“My sexuality is obviously part of who I am – but it’s not just who I am,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t change what I do. I am happy and comfortable with myself and what I do. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Attended by a film producer, Callea spent last week in New York, seeking inspiration for the new album on which he intends to focus in the first half of 2009.

“I’d like to put myself into the shoes of my own fans: what do they want to see?” he said

“It’s all well and good just getting out there and singing and performing, but I want them to see what goes on behind the scenes in putting a project together.”

Callea said his number one passion was “getting out there singing a great song”.

“Growing up, I loved John Farnham. These days there are some amazing artists out there – look at artists like Christina Aguilera and Pink.

“They’re not just singers, they’re actual performers and entertainers, who know exactly who they are and what they are doing. Every artist aspires to be like them. I’ve already got my tickets to Pink. That’s how much of a fan I am.”

Callea’s advice to aspiring singers:

“If you love something and want to pursue it, don’t let anyone tell you anything different.“Take it seriously, but if you’re not happy any more, and it becomes a chore, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons,” he said.

“I think it’s really important to be versatile and not just pigeonhole yourself to one thing.”

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