EXCLUSIVE: Stan Walker shares what the new Australian Idol should do differently

Plus, he reveals how his personal struggles encouraged him to make a difference.
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Trigger Warning: This article deals with the topics of mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.

Having just celebrated 12 years since he won Australian Idol, Stan Walker is delighted to learn that the singing competition where he got his start is making a comeback, even if the Stan who got three ‘yes’’ from Dicko, Marcia Hines and Kyle Sandilands, is world’s away from who he is now.

WATCH: Stan Walker on his road to recovery after cancer diagnosis

“I look at myself then and I look at myself now… I was two completely different people,” says Stan, who is “excited” for the revival, assuring New Idea he’ll “definitely be tuning in”.

“That’s the OG,” he says. “Like all these other shows, they’re all good but, no, Aussie Idol all day.”

When asked if he thinks the show should make any changes this time around, Stan suggests following the example of the overseas version of the franchise.

“I think they should follow suit of what they’ve recently been doing on the American Idol. That more personal… the way they set it up, it’s more intimate and personal and gives the singer the ability to become an artist and not so manufactured as it used to be,” Stan says.

Stan Walker has tied the knot with Lou Tyson. (Credit: Instagram)

And speaking of his roots, Stan will soon be enjoying a full circle moment as he is coming to Australia next year to perform at Bluesfest in Byron Bay – alongside artists such as Amy Shark and Missy Higgins – which was the very first gig he ever did.

“I was 16 years old and I won a competition when I used to go to Byron Bay High. And I played there in front of this big crowd and I had my family be my backup vocalists and guitarists. That was the first exposure I ever had to doing a gig so it’s full circle for me. 16 years old and I’m 31 now so it’s a long time ago.”

With 15 years of performing under his belt, the moment that stands out most to Stan is doing a song with his niece and goddaughter Ibanez (Ibee) Maeva and becoming the first ever number one on the New Zealand Māori music charts.

Watching Ibee get to celebrate in the accolade with him was monumental for Stan, who says he hopes to leave a legacy for the generation to come.

Stan says the highlight of his career was performing a song with his niece and goddaughter, Ibee. (Credit: YouTube)

“I’m at the age… and I’ve always had the heart and the vision and the goal to kind of leave a legacy for people. And now we’re at that age we’re watching our kids grow up into that legacy,” says Stan, who is the stepfather to his wife Lou Tyson’s son, Te Puuwairua.

“Our hope is always that our ceiling will be their floor.”

As well as performing at Bluesfest, Stan will also be going on a nationwide tour of New Zealand next year. A portion of each ticket will be donated to the I Am Hope foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to provide free mental health counselling for young people.

“Unfortunately we’ve got a high rate of mental health, depression and suicide,” says Stan. “And we actually have in New Zealand, and I’m ashamed to say it but thank God for people like I Am Hope that are here to change that, but we’ve got the highest rate in Māori men in youth, the highest rate of suicide per capita.”

Stan won the seventh season in 2009. of Australian Idol in (Credit: Getty)

The singer goes on to speak about how his own personal experience encouraged him to get actively involved with the organisation.

“I’ve lost family, I’ve lost friends, and, in my life, I’ve almost lost myself. So, you know, it’s one thing to go ‘Yeah, I support that’ and a post is free, sharing on Instagram and Facebook, that’s free. But I feel like if we’re going be about it, we kind of have to put our money where our mouth is, because this stuff ain’t free and our kids need their free counselling and those services that are really going to help them.

“In a time like this with COVID and uncertainty about everything, and if they’ve already been going through stuff and it’s just heightened through this time, we need to help our kids, they’re the next generation, we need to help our young people.”  

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.

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