Cyrus Villanueva joins a host of top Aussie talent to celebrate Australia Day live, writes Tiffany Dunk
This time last year, Cyrus Villanueva was celebrating Australia Day with his best mates at the beach and then tucking into a traditional Aussie barbie with his family.
This year, things couldn’t be more different.
Come January 26, Villanueva will be one of the headline acts for Channel 10’s Australia Day concert, airing live from Sydney’s Opera House.
More than 5000 people will attend, along with millions of potential viewers.
It’s an opportunity the 19year-old musician, who won The X Factor in November last year, still can’t quite believe is happening to him.
“Just hearing people say that gives me goosebumps,” he says. “I’ve never played an outdoor stage like this. It’s going to be unreal — I can’t wait.”
Villanueva will be joined by a host of acts including Jessica Mauboy, Kate Ceberano, Thirsty Merc, Justice Crew and Glenn Shorrock.
In addition, ’90s pop duo Bachelor Girl — who gave us Aussie hits Buses and Trains and Treat Me Good — will reunite for a one-off performance
Creative director John Foreman says televising the concert has been something he’s been working towards for years. And last year, the team put on a non-televised “dry run” to test what would and wouldn’t work from the iconic location.
“I love live television — the stakes are raised a little bit higher when it’s live to air,” he says.
“It’s been a long-time dream of mine to have a show on Australia Day that celebrates who we are as people through music and conversation. We’re trying to capture the Australian spirit throughout the broadcast.”
In addition to musical performances, the broadcast will showcase the events of the day through presenters including Kerri-Anne Kennerley and comedians Roy & HG.
They’ll also show footage from indigenous ceremonies happening throughout the country.
Foreman and his team have been locking in the cream of Australian talent for the past 12 months.
Making sure the acts appealed to all ages and demographics cswas was crucial to the creative team.
“We want t to offer broad entertainment ainment for the whole family, mily, something you ou can all sit down togetherether and relax and d watch on Australia Day evening,” he says.
Also crucial ial was making sure the soundtrack of the evening encompassedompassed classic Aussie e songs.
While Thirstyirsty Merc has In the Summertime, mmertime, Ceberano has hits like Bedroom Eyes, and Shorrock has a wealth of Little River Band songs to bring to the table, newc newcomer Villaneuva says he’ll be putting a unique tw twist on a famous tune from Oz. “I’ll b be singing a mash mashup of two songs,” he sa says.
““One is an iconic Au Australian song wh which I’ll reinvent an and bring a little bit of Cyrus flavour to, th then I’ll be singing m my single, Stone.”
In addition, h he’ll bring along a surprise guest to p perform a duet wi with.
“I can’t tell you who it is right now, but it will be someone special,” he teases.
Our money’s on Guy Sebastian. The X Factor mentor and ARIA winner is a huge fan of Villanueva, having previously told Switched On that he would love to work with the talented musician.
“Cyrus has all the ingredients,” Sebastian gushed. “He’s smart, he can talk, he’s a really nice dude ... I really want to do something with him.”
For his part, Villanueva says he’s flattered to hear Sebastian thinks so highly of him — and he’s more than ready to take up the offer.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to catch up and, who knows, work on something together,” he says.
Until that time Villanueva is focusing on performing his own material and hopes to be able to return to The X Factor stage — this time as a guest — when the show returns.
“My fingers are crossed,” he says.
AUSTRALIA DAY CONCERT — LIVE FROM THE OPERA HOUSE, TEN, TUESDAY, 7.30PM
Starts February 2, Eleven Glee favourite Jane Lynch is back as Amy, the guardian angel of young dermatologist Allison Fuller (Maggie Lawson), in this sitcom.
“I’ve never played an outdoor stage like this. It’s going
to be unreal”
Starts March/April, Channel 7 Claire Warren’s (Joan Allen) political ambitions are thrown into disarray when her son Adam (Liam James) reappears after 10 years. From Scandal writer Jenna Bans.
ON HIS BIG GIG
Starts March/April, Channel 7 US thriller from executive producer Shonda Rhimes ( Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder). Fraud investigator Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos) is being duped by her fiancee.