Anthony Callea is just 22 years of age, but he is already a national phenomenon.
His debut single, that extraordinary version of Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer”, not only held the No. 1 position in lockdown for five consecutive weeks, it has set the record books reeling: Anthony Callea’s “The Prayer” is officially the fastest selling Australian single of all time, it is also the highest selling Australian single ever!
These are astounding figures for any artist, but especially for one whose career has only just begun. They hint at Anthony’s rare, cross-generational appeal, but they’re not what make him special. To understand that, you have to cast your mind all the way back to the 10th August, 2004, the morning after the then 21 year old singing teacher from Melbourne was voted out of the first round of Australian Idol. It had been a tough blow to a performer who’d been working towards this moment since he was three years old. But that day, like every other day, he got over it and did what he did best. He sang. Because for Anthony Callea, there was nothing else he could do. “Music is my life. It’s my reason for being”, he says. “And anyway”, he laughs, “I’m crap at everything else”.
There was nothing in Anthony’s family history suggestive of his future profession. No one sang, no one played an instrument. So you can imagine his parents’ complete bewilderment when the then three-year old Anthony asked them if they could take him to singing lessons. “It was a bit weird”, recalls Anthony. “But they’ve always been supportive, saying if that’s what you really want to do, then go for it”. And he’s been going for it ever since.
From those early days of talent schools through to 13 years of private singing lessons - which culminated in Anthony topping the state for Music Solo Performance in Victoria’s (HSC equivalent) Certificate of Education (with a perfect score, no less!) - Anthony has been utterly committed to his craft. By age 15, Anthony was already performing at The Odeon theatre in Melbourne’s Crown Casino, where he met up with producer Ashley Cadell, and spent the next few years writing, recording and honing his skills. By age 17, he was earning his living as a professional singer, continuing to perform at the Crown Casino as well as doing corporate gigs and weddings as a member of vocal trio, Say Yeah. In addition, he had a group of 27 private singing students with whom he shared his vocal secrets. Anthony knew he was going somewhere. He just didn’t know where, or when, his big break would come.
Then a small show called Australian Idol came along. Anthony made it through to the Final 30 before being voted off. The elimination was a surprise, and it hurt. But Anthony followed the same advice he gave his students: “Keep at it, don’t let anyone put you down and remember that if you really want something, put your mind to it and just do it”. So when Anthony received the wildcard that saw him re-enter the show, he wasn’t overwhelmed. He wasn’t nervous. He was ready.
History may recall that it was Casey Donovan who became the Australian Idol, but it is Anthony Callea who will be remembered for providing the show’s defining moment: a performance of The Prayer so jaw droppingly accomplished, so emotionally loaded, that it produced a standing ovation from both the judges and the audience. From that moment, Anthony Callea was on his way.
Anthony Callea’s debut album, simply titled ANTHONY CALLEA, is stunning testament to his promise and his undeniable talent. Recorded over two months, ANTHONY CALLEA comprises 12 contemporary pop songs that explore the textured dynamics of his tenor’s range. It is an album remarkable for both the diversity and the consistency of its material. Anthony personally sifted through more than 40 tracks before settling on the 12 you have in front of you, so you can be assured this is contemporary pop at it’s finest.
Produced and written by the world’s premier pop personnel – whose collective credits include George Michael, Delta Goodrem, Britney Spears, Ronan Keating and the Backstreet Boys, to name but a stellar few – and featuring a track which Anthony wrote while working with producer Ashley Cadell all those years back back (“I Want You”), ANTHONY CALLEA seamlessly melds all the diverse facets of Anthony’s musical taste: there’s the operatic (“The Prayer”, naturally); the symphonic (“Per Sempre For Always
); polished pop-rock (“Rain”, “Hurt So Bad”, “Take It To The Heart”); carefree summer anthems (“Lost in Summer”); brooding, up-tempo dance (“Into Your Heart”); big, dramatic ballads (“When I Get There”); moody ballads (“I Want You”, “When You Were My Girl”); even timeless classics (Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”). It’s an album for all seasons by an artist whose voice is as versatile as it is convincing.
Anthony is immensely proud of his debut long player, and rightly so. It is a record with enormous appeal. But naturally – and especially given that he’s already reached such heady heights so early into his career – Anthony is still a little nervous about how the album will be received.
“It’s weird”, he says. “It’s like a part of me that I’m putting out there and I’m just hoping people will like it. I’m extremely happy with it, and I’ve been overwhelmed by all the support I’ve received from the public, so I hope they like it as well. But at the end of the day I gave it all I’ve got, and if it doesn’t work out, at least I can say that I gave it no less than one hundred per cent”.
ANTHONY CALLEA, the debut album from Anthony Callea, is living proof that natural talent, self-belief, hard work and persistence are the cornerstones of success. Or as Anthony might tell you:
“Keep at it, don’t let anyone put you down and remember that if you really want something, put your mind to it and just do it”.
Anthony Callea is set to perform in Milan alongside Pavarotti.