TV fame pays off for Darren Percival

Darren Percival.
Darren Percival.



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The sudden fame TV talent shows bring can be challenging for people not accustomed to the limelight.

It's easy to rattle off the names of musicians who shone for a brief moment in time, only to be cut down by the pressure, the scrutiny or simply the exhaustion and fade happily back into their old lives.

But you get the feeling Darren Percival won't be one of those musicians.

Although the singer didn't take out the winning prize on the premiere Australian season of The Voice in June this year, the runner-up has been in demand ever since.

He and his family - wife Amanda, three-year-old son Cash and baby Willow - have taken to calling this year "the ride", but Percival has been cool and collected the whole way through, probably because he was a popular entertainer for more than two decades prior to the show as vocal looping artist Mr Percival.

"I have been doing it for quite a while, so the transition hasn't been as massive as if I had quit 10 years ago and just worked in a bank or something, but it's just been a great transition into being really busy. And I love singing, so I'm so lucky I get to do what I love," he says.

Percival takes the whirlwind experiences of the past year with a grain of salt - he says the financial stability, not the fame, is one of best things to come out of his exposure on the show.

"It just means we've got a bit more stability in our lives which is a really great thing when you've got a young family, so that's a really positive part of the ride," he muses.

Still, he admits it is quite surreal he can call people like his on-the-show mentor Keith Urban a friend.

"All of us need inspiration, whatever job we do, and once you've been doing it for a while it can be hard to find, so those moments where you really do get inspired through interactions with people like him are clearly for the best."

The soul singer is in no rush to release an album of his own material. Although a CD of some tracks he sang on The Voice came out soon after the series wrapped up,

his first offering outside of its banner, A Tribute to Ray Charles, is a record that pays homage to the late artist.

Percival says no other musician has inspired him as much, partly because Charles wasn't afraid to dabble in different styles of music and partly because he was a great entertainer.

"You can put one of his tunes on if you want to have a dance at home, or if you're cleaning the house or having people over for dinner; or if you want inspiration vocally you can put it on, he just covers all bases."

While musicians often talk about the difficulties of making another musician's song their own without it being unrecognisable, Percival finds this process simple after years of performing other people's songs, as well as his own, on stage and in the competition.

"Everything [in a song] comes from the story, you can get a lot out of it - the tempo you can do that song in, the instrumentation, the general mood and the feel," he says.

"It wasn't really that daunting but it was a challenge to present these songs in my own way without them being unrecognisable.

"It's a big call, but I really wanted to do it and it felt right and I followed my gut all year."


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