ANTHONY Callea didn't want a big party to celebrate his 30th birthday.
Instead the singer, who placed as runner-up on the 2004 season of Australian Idol, chose to mark his third decade with an album of songs that have inspired him throughout his life.
"I haven't put an album out for a while so I wanted to put an album together and I thought turning 30 was a good excuse to celebrate that milestone," Callea says.
The album (titled Thirty) includes covers of Cheap Trick's The Flame, Heart's Alone and Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross, along with two originals, My All and I'll Be The One, and a couple of Italian songs to pay homage to his family background.
"This album was probably one of the easiest albums to put together and I say that in a really good way," Callea says.
"I've lived with these songs for so many years and I wanted to record songs that have somewhat influenced me over the last 30 years.
"These songs have been part of my life and I've sung a lot of them live but I've just never recorded them so it was a great opportunity to sit down and go 'OK what are the songs that really have spoken to me and captured me'.
"It wasn't about recreating these songs at all. It was about just putting my stamp on them and hopefully I've done that without playing around with them too much."
The album was recorded in Callea's home town of Melbourne with all of the strings on the album recorded live.
Releasing the album spells the beginning of a new partnership with ABC Music who released Thirty after Callea approached them with the project earlier this year.
"It was a bit daunting - totally," Callea laughs.
"You want to do this thing so badly and you want these people to come on board and so it's like you need to sell it to them.
"I'm so glad that they understood what I wanted to do with the album from word go."
Callea, who has been chosen as one of the acts to perform at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific Games in Newcastle on December 1, is touring the album with a run of dates in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
The singer says he owes a lot to Australian Idol, conceding that the show was a huge stepping stone in his music career.
"I still get to wake up everyday and say that I'm a singer so it's pretty cool," Callea says.
"I don't have any regrets whatsoever. I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing right now if it wasn't for that show.
"It gave me an amazing launch pad and it taught me so many things and I walked away with so many experiences and lessons learnt from that show.
"I was young - I was 21 - and I can only speak from my experience but the hard work definitely starts as soon as that show's over.
"At times it did get a little bit overwhelming but if you don't get lost in the hype of the show and just remember why you actually walked into that audition room in the first place then hopefully you can keep it all together."
As well as the tour, Callea is also appearing in a production of Grease The Musical which kicks off in Brisbane next month.
He says his partner of five years, House Husbands actor Tim Campbell, offers him plenty of tips for the stage.
"I'm the first one to put my hand up and say 'I'm not really the actor, I'm more the singer' [laughs], so living in a household where one's a singer and one's an actor, it's great," Callea says.
"I can give him singing tips and he can give me acting tips, so it's a fair swap. I've saved myself $100 an hour!"
Anthony Callea performs at Belmont 16 Foot Sailing Club on August 3. Bookings online at 16s.com.au or phone 49450888.