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As a young boy listening to his father's music
collection, Guy Sebastian was introduced to
the likes of gospel and RnB singer Sam Cooke
and jazz vocalist Nat King Cole.
Sebastian was captivated by the soulful
American music that filled his family home in
"I was pretty young, I think around five, when I started
copying everything I was hearing on dad's record player,"
he says. "The first time I heard Sam Cooke sing I thought to
myself 'I want to be able to do that'."
Sebastian moved with his family to Melbourne in 1988,
before they settled in Adelaide when he was 10 years old.
He indulged his love of music by learning the violin, and
also dabbled with the guitar, drums and piano. But it wasn't
until he was 14 years old that he worked up the confidence
to begin singing.
A natural talent, Sebastian's incredibly range and
beautiful tone proved a winning combination, making him
the first Australian Idol winner in 2003 when he was just
22 years old.
Looking back on that time in his life, Sebastian says going
into the competition he didn't realise what an impact it
would have on his life and his music.
"Being the first show of its kind, we didn't even know if
it was going to make it on TV, let alone be as big as it was,"
"I guess I may not be here, doing this, if I didn't go on that
show. I was studying Medical Radiation at uni, but I don't
think I'd be doing that. I'm sure I would have stumbled into
music somehow; it's all I can think about."
Thrust into the limelight, Sebastian's newly-found fame
ensured his first solo single Angels Brought Me Here
debuted at number one. But it was his remarkable talent
that made it the fastest selling Australian single in ARIA
On the back of his Australian Idol success, his debut
album Just As I Am made record breaking sales, while his
second album, Beautiful Life, went double platinum and his
third, Closer To The Sun, went platinum.
With each album Sebastian extended the boundaries
of his music style, branching further into soul and RnB.
He broke away from pop completely in his fourth album,
recording a collection of the best soul songs from the Stax
Records label in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sebastian says looking back, his music has matured with
each album and reflects how he has grown in both his
personal and professional life.
"First of all I grew out of my shell and stopped doing what
I thought I should do or what labels and the radio would
want me to do," he says. "I just did what I love and that is
soul music. I love the challenge of writing pop but whatever
I compose will always have my soul, gospel and RnB roots
infused in it."
His most recent album, Armageddon, featured the single
Battle Scars with rapper Lupe Fiasco, which became
Sebastian's first song on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Chart
to reach number one.
The track also won first place in the RnB section of
the prestigious US-based International Songwriting
"The US market is very intricate and hard to crack.
Getting a leg up by having Lupe's support is unreal," he
says. "I mean, getting to do shows like Letterman, Jimmy
Fallon and Conan is not something that happens every
Battle Scars went eight times platinum in Australia
and was the third highest selling single of the year. It also
debuted at number one, giving the singer his sixth number
one single in Australia, the most for any male Australian
Sebastian says he is very blessed to hold the record and
credits his loyal supporters for his success and continuing
"It feels great to be honest. Sure there was a lot of
haters along the way but I just kept my head down and
concentrated on just working hard, loving my work, and
loving people," he says.
Now a regular judge on The X Factor, as well as a
husband and father, Sebastian's goals are rather grounded
considering the many successes he experienced so early on
in his career.
"Just to work hard, keep writing and being the best dad,
husband, friend, son and brother I can be," he says. "I
always remind myself of how, tough this industry is and
that you can become yesterday's news very quickly.
"I want to make a difference, use my music for good and
do things for others that I can be proud of."
Sebastian's newest venture brings him to Canberra as
part of the Get Along tour. He will be joined on the road by
an amazing band including the likes of American singer/
songwriter and guitarist David Ryan Harris, as well as
Carmen Smith and Angel Tupai on background vocals.
"Our ritual just before stage is to gather around and say a
little prayer that really just involves us being grateful for the
fact that music is our job," he says. "We acknowledge that
it›s something we get to do every day and we don›t take it
"We acknowledge that music is not just a job but it's a
powerful medium that has the potential to change every
single person in the room we are about to play in."
Get Along tour Saturday, June 22, Royal Theatre at the
National Convention Centre premier.ticketek.com.au
Ever since his incredible voice made Australians sit up and take notice on
his way to winning the first Australian Idol series, Guy Sebastian has been
incredibly grateful to make music for a living. JONI SCANLON writes
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