Casey Donovan, April 2012

Singer, Australian Idol alumni and Indigenous role model Casey Donovan joins the Women of Soul cast this month for another run through some of the most iconic female-fronted soul songs in music history. Donovan has fond memories of her previous stint in the show, during its initial run in 2009, as it reignited her love of performing after the inevitable post-Idol slump had made her question her place in the music industry.

“At that point in time I’d really stopped doing any shows whatsoever. I was asked to jump on board Women of Soul in 2009, and I haven’t looked back – it gave me that hunger I needed to get back on stage again,” Donovan told the Star Observer.

This time around, the singer appears as a Heather Locklear-esque ‘special guest star’ alongside Deni Hines and 2012 X Factor finalist Angel Tupai. Performers Mindy Kwanten and Evie J Wilie will perform the bulk of the show, inviting their well-known guests on stage for occasional numbers.

“I was asked to be a special guest and I thought – yeah, I’m gonna do that! It’s such a great show to be a part of and I’m happy to sing whatever, but I’ll certainly put forward a few songs,” said Donovan.

“Aretha Franklin is definitely a favourite of mine, and I’m gonna try to sneak some Etta James in there too. Look, women of soul – just any woman who can open her mouth and sing a tune is amazing to me.”

Expect to hear other classic tracks by the likes of Thelma Houston, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Tina Turner and other greats as the tour snakes its way through NSW between now and December. Now five years old, Women of Soul is the brainchild of another Aussie soul diva, Christine Anu, who created the brand as a touring avenue for herself before letting some of her peers in on the action.

“It really is her baby. Christine is an amazing woman, and hopefully if she comes along to any of the shows we can pull her up on stage and convince her to sing a few songs with us.”

It all sounds like a lady love-in, but we had to ask about one of Donovan’s fellow cast members. Despite a memorable ‘90s music career that included hits with the Rockmelons and as a solo artist, many would now associate Deni Hines with her – ahem – divisive appearance on Celebrity Apprentice. There’s a perception out there that perhaps Ms. Hines doesn’t play well with others…

“We actually did a Women of Soul Michael Jackson tribute show together a few years ago, and at first I was a bit hesitant about her, to be honest. Once I got to know her I realised she’s very down to earth – she’s a very strong-minded, strong-headed woman.

“That’s great, because there’s no lies with Deni. If she doesn’t like something, she’ll let you know!”

INFO: Women of Soul tours NSW from September 21 – dates in Belmont, Kingsford, Katoomba and more. Dates at www.facebook.com/womenofsoulaus

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