Does Australian Idol have the best track record of any reality singing competition? It might just do – it launched the careers of Guy Sebastian, Matt Corby, Jessica Mauboy, and Stan Walker to name just a few.
It’s early days for the first winner of the rebooted series, Royston Noell, but he’s got the singing talent to have as consistent a career as some of those stellar names.
The 23-year-old from Far North Queensland was crowned the winner of Australian Idol season eight last month, earning a recording contract with Sony Music and a life-changing $100,000 in prize money.
The proud Indigenous singer was clearly overwhelmed at the time. “Thank all this mob up here, all my family and friends for coming,” he happily declared onstage. “Everyone who’s been voting, thank you so much!”
The competition judges – Amy Shark, Harry Connick Jr., Meghan Trainor, and Kyle Sandilands – believe in his future. “You’re ready… You are amazing. I love you,” gushed Trainor.
Noell now tentatively enters Australian music with his winning single, “Invincible”, a powerful anthem that’s inevitably about following your dreams. “Doing it all, since day one / I’m invincible, I’m invincible,” he cries in the soaring chorus; “And I had nothing left to lose / Becausе I died a thousand times just tryna make these dreams come true,” he relatably adds.
There’s also a touching homespun quality to the lyrics, unsurprising coming from the proud youth worker and community advocate (more on that below): “I made it home, call the papers / And tell my family I’II be home for tea,” he whispers, and it doesn’t feel like the boy from Mapoon will ever forget his roots.
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To celebrate his win, Tone Deaf caught up with Noell as part of our Get to Know series to find out more about his life before Australian Idol and his hopes for the future.
Royston Noell’s “Invincible” is out now.
How did your artist name come about?
Royston Noell is my first and middle name. I added the second “l” to Noell because there’s actually already an artist named Royston Noel!
How would you describe your music to your grandma?
To relate it to people she would know and listen to, I would describe myself to her as a cross between Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson.
Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?
My Australian Idol winner’s single, “Invincible”, is about following your dreams and making it! But also the struggles that come with that.
What do you love about your hometown?
I love the togetherness of Mapoon. It’s so different to the city. If you’re cooking dinner and you don’t have an onion you can go ask your neighbour. There’s always a really nice exchange.
We also have a really beautiful cultural protocol where people will go out to gather food to bring back for their families, but also share it out to the elders in the community and any sick people.
When my Mum was really sick with cancer, people would bring over cultural food or bush tucker which is something I really love about the community – everyone helps each other.
Career highlight so far?
Winning Australian Idol for sure.
Fave non-music hobby?
I love to hang out with my friends – we love going to have a feed at the pub together.
What’s on your dream rider?
I don’t know! I haven’t had a chance to really even think about it. But thinking on it now, a masseuse would be really nice!
Dream music collaboration?
Beyoncé. I am a part of the beehive so that would be a dream come true.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A successful artist with hopefully a few albums out. Aside from music, I would love to have my own foundation, running workshops for people in disadvantaged circumstances.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
My go-to karaoke song would 100% be Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey”.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I was ever given was to never worry about what other people say and to never let someone dim my light.
What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?
One of my obsessions is Harry Potter. I absolutely love the films and I’m due for another rewatch.