He was born in Ireland and now lives in Australia with his Australian wife, Eileen Stapleton, and their two sons, Jarvis Dion and Jagger Ramone. Leith became an Australian citizen on 25 January 2007 taking the pledge from the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, in a nationally televised broadcast on Network Ten.
As a teenager he formed a family band, "Leaf", with his sister Áine and brothers Paul and Darren. Leaf recorded in New York and then again later under the new name "Releaf", with two new members Niall O'Luanaigh and Eoin King, which made an appearance in the Irish Top 100.
Before auditioning for Australian Idol, Leith worked in Sydney as a chemist with Pharmalab utilising the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Chemistry he obtained from University College, Dublin and postgraduate experience within the Metallosupramolecular Research Group in the Chemistry Department of Trinity College, Dublin.
Leith was selected by the judges as one of the final 24 contestants, and was the first person voted into the competition's top 12 as the result of a nationwide viewer vote. He was praised by the show's judges for his falsetto technique, which he used regularly in performances.
For the first time, Australian Idol 2006 permitted contestants to perform with instruments, and Leith accompanied himself on guitar for his renditions of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game", Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Alex Lloyd's "Never Meant to Fail" and Ben Harper's "Waiting On an Angel", and on piano for his rendition of Split Enz's "Message to My Girl". Leith also played piano for the non-competition round "Up Close and Personal" night, when he performed his original song "Sky".
Despite adverse comments from judges Mark Holden and Kyle Sandilands in relation to Leith's appearance and a performance of Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" on the "Disco" theme night, which drew ridicule from Holden, the judges' assessments of Leith's performances were usually positive with Holden labelling him a 'darkhorse' early in the competition. His renditions of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game", Roy Orbison's "Crying", Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" each earned Leith a "Touchdown" from Mark Holden, a gesture which has come to be regarded as Holden's ultimate accolade for an excellent performance. Leith holds the record (with Australian Idol 2004 winner Casey Donovan) for being given the most amount of touchdowns, at four a piece. Sandilands also stated that the family of Roy Orbison had contacted the Australian Idol producers requesting a copy of Leith's performance of "Crying". Although he was one of the most popular interviewees on Idol's behind-the-scenes show Idol Backstage, he was not expected by betting agency Centrebet to win the competition with Dean Geyer punted as the favourite to win throughout.
Leith was the last contestant in the 2006 season to be in the bottom 3, until the top 5 verdict night on October 30.
At age 30, Leith became the second oldest winner (the oldest known Idol winner is Glenn Lyse of Norway, who won at age 33 in 2007) of any Idol series in the World.
Controversy among viewers was created as Leith was not officially an Australian Citizen at the time of winning the Australian Idol.
Leith signed a recording contract with Sony BMG and his debut single, "Night of My Life", was released as a paid digital download from Bigpond Music soon after the conclusion of the grand finale, with an official CD release on November 28, which included an original composition written and produced by Leith titled "Come to Me".
The single was certified "Gold" (35,000 copies sold) within 72 hours of its release. On December 3, 2006, the single debuted at #1 and continued to stay in that position for 4 weeks, having Platinum accreditation (70,000 copies shipped) awarded in the first week of release.
It was the fastest-selling debut single released during 2006, and also the most added song to radio.
The video of "Night of My Life" debuted on national television on Saturday December 9, 2006. Set in the urban streets of Chippendale, New South Wales, the video was produced by Cutting Edge Productions.
Although with an official release date of December 9, on December 6, 2006, Leith's CD/DVD pack entitled The Winner's Journey with all his Idol performances and two original tracks began appearing in non-ARIA accredited stores. The release debuted at #3 with Platinum accreditation (70,000 copies shipped) on the ARIA Album Charts released on Sunday, December 10, 2006, and rose to #1 on the following week, with 89,000 units sold and certified platinum four times (280,000 copies shipped). It sold a 2006 record of 101,206 units in the pre-Christmas week and continued to stay in the same position of #1 for the next four weeks.
In late December 2006, Leith signed with Sony BMG Ireland and on January 18 2007 "Night of My Life" entered the Top 10 singles chart in Ireland. The next week it rose up two spots to the position of #8.
Leith performed in a nationally televised concert, Australia Day Live, on the eve of Australia Day 2007, in the nation's capital, Canberra. Leith performed two songs, Peter Allen's "Tenterfield Saddler" with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and "Night of My Life".
In late February 2007, Leith embarked on a two week, 14 show tour of major Australian East Coast cities. Labelled The Winner's Journey Tour, the concerts featured many of the songs performed by Leith during Australian Idol, as well as showcasing new original songs destined for his forthcoming studio album, including the folk/acoustic piece "Song for Jarvis", dedicated to his son, and "Beautiful", a band piece written by Leith during his trip to Ireland after winning Australian Idol.
On 22 February 2007, Leith was presented with two ARIA No. 1 Chart Awards for his first single "Night of My Life" and first album The Winner's Journey. These awards are presented to Australian artists whose singles and albums reach no. 1 on the ARIA national single and album charts over the thirteen months from December 2005 to December 2006.
In March 2007, Leith again performed "Night of My Life" and was nominated for "Spankin' New Artist" and "Best Male Artist" awards at the MTV Australia Video Music Awards 2007. On 29 April, 2007 the winners were announced, unfortunately Damien was unsuccessful.
On 9 July 2007, Leith was nominated for a 2007 Helpmann Award in the category of Best Performance in an Australian Contemporary Concert (other nominees are David Campbell, Kylie Minogue and Olivia Newton-John). The annual Helpmann Awards recognise distinguished artistic achievement and excellence in the many disciplines of Australia's vibrant live performance sectors, including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, dance and physical theatre. The Helpmann Awards, named in honour of Sir Robert Helpmann and to commemorate his memory and achievements, are similar to the Tony Awards on Broadway and the Olivier Awards in London. The winners were announced at a ceremony on Monday 6 August, unfortunately Damien was unsuccessful.
In early November 2007, Leith performed "22 Steps" on the TV soap opera "Neighbours".
Leith's second single "22 Steps" was released to Australian radio on June 22, 2007 and then was in stores on July 21, which debut and peaked at #11 on the ARIA Singles Chart. The studio album Where We Land followed and was released on August 18, 2007. It debuted at number one on August 27 in the ARIA Albums Chart. This is his second number one album within seven months. Damien is also the first Australian Idol winner to score two consecutive #1 albums. Leith had an appearance on Rove on 26th August 2007 and he performed live during the semi-finals of Australian Idol 2007 on 30th August. The second single from the album is "All I Want Is You", which he performed on the October 8th verdict show on Australian Idol 2007.
Leith embarked on a national Where We Land tour around Australia, performing his own material from the album, which began in November. The original schedule of the tour only included venues located along the east coast, but it was announced on September 28 that the tour will be extended to include Adelaide and Perth.
During February 2007, Leith signed a book deal with Australian publishers, Harper Collins. His first novel, written three years before entering Australian Idol, has been described by Leith as a psychological thriller set in Nepal. The novel is titled One More Time and it was released on October 1, 2007.
In October 2007, Leith was nominated for 3 Australian ARIA Music Awards including; "Best Breakthrough Single" and "Highest Selling Single" for Night of My Life, which he was unsuccessful in. He was also nominated for "Highest Selling Album" for The Winner's Journey, which he won.
In February 2008, Damien started to host Network Ten's heart-warming television series "Saving Kids". A show filmed at Sydney Children's Hospital which allows viewers to see medical miracles unfolding in the stories of children being treated for serious illnesses and horrific injuries. His song "Not Just For The Weekend" off his debut studio album serves as the theme song and was released as a promotional single to promote the show.
On April 26, 2008, less than a year after the release of his first studio album, Where We Land, Leith released his second album, Catch the Wind: Songs of a Generation. The album contained his own interpretations of classic folk songs and he performed several of the album's tracks during two small gigs at the Vanguard in Newtown, New South Wales on March 14 and 15.
The album debut in the ARIA Album Charts at #3 on the 4th of May and rose to its peak at #2 the next week held off the top spot by André Rieu and Mirusia's Waltzing Matilda. It was certified Gold in its 3rd week. Leith performed a series of live shows across Australia for his 'Catch The Wind' tour which began in May and is to finish late July. The tour was up-close and personal set in small venues with only 2 other band members.
Leith has since stated that he already working on his third studio album which will be full of original songs and is planned for release in either late 2008 or early 2009. He is also writing his second novel which he says will have a father and son relationship plot.
The following is a complete discography of every album and single released by Australian acoustic/pop music artist Damien Leith.
|The Winner's Journey||1||—||4x Platinum (ARIA)|
|Where We Land||1||43||Platinum (ARIA)|
|Catch the Wind: Songs of a Generation||2||—||Gold (ARIA)|
|2006||"Night of My Life"||1||8||Platinum (ARIA)||The Winner's Journey|
|2007||"22 Steps"||11||—||Where We Land|
|All I Want Is You"[[#endnote_A>[A]]]||—||—|
|2008||Australian Recording Industry Association||ARIA No. 1 Chart Award - Album (Where We Land)||Won|
|2008||Australian Recording Industry Association||ARIA No. 1 Chart Award - Album (The Winner's Journey)||Won|
|2007||ARIA Award||Highest Selling Single (Night Of My Life)||Nominated|
|2007||ARIA Award||Highest Selling Album (The Winner's Journey)||Won|
|2007||ARIA Award||Breakthrough Artist Single (Night Of My Life)||Nominated|
|2007||Australian Recording Industry Association||ARIA No. 1 Chart Award - Single (Night Of My Life)||Won|
|2007||Australian Recording Industry Association||ARIA No. 1 Chart Award - Album (The Winner's Journey)||Won|
|2007||MTV Australia Video Music Awards 2007||Spankin' New Artist||Nominated|
|2007||MTV Australia Video Music Awards 2007||Best Male Artist||Nominated|
|2007||Helpmann Awards 2007||Best Performance in an Australian Contemporary Concert||Nominated|
|2007||Helpmann Awards 2007||The Harbour Agency, Best Australian Contemporary Concert||Nominated|