Ricki-Lee Coulter talks childhood dreams, working with her husband, and the baby girl who grounds her

"It's kind of humbling".
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She’s a hit singer-songwriter, a popular radio presenter and the co-host of Australian Idol.

But Ricki-Lee Coulter is also godmother to a baby girl, Ari, a role she describes as “kind of humbling”.

“I did this big, amazing show in Brisbane at the weekend – you know, glitz and glamour and sequins – and then next morning, she pooed on my hand,” Ricki-Lee tells TV WEEK with a laugh. “It brings you back down to earth. I love it.”

Baby poo aside, Ricki-Lee is living the dream – the dream she had as a teenager 20 years ago when she auditioned for the second season of Australian Idol.

“I was 18, so I was still a baby, but I’d been doing gigs around the [Queensland] Gold Coast since I was 15,” she explains. “I was in Grade 10 and doing my homework in nightclubs at the side of the stage in my breaks. All I ever wanted was to be a pop star.”

Auditioning for Idol, in front of judges Ian “Dicko” Dickson, Marcia Hines and Mark Holden, made that happen. “It was the start of the rest of my life when I walked into that audition room,” she says.

Ricki-Lee auditioned for Australian Idol in 2003.


Ricki-Lee is thrilled that Marcia is back as an Idol judge this season, alongside Kyle Sandilands and Amy Shark.

“Marcia is the OG,” [Original] she says. “She’s the queen. I love her so much. She and I have stayed really close since I was on the show. Our relationship is part of the reason I said yes to hosting.”

Marcia was a mentor to Ricki-Lee when she was a contestant, teaching her how to walk in high heels on stage and giving her advice on what to wear.

“She would pull me aside if I was wearing an outfit that maybe she thought, ‘Ooh, you’re going to get a bit slammed for that,'” Ricki-Lee remembers. “She would say, ‘Hey girlfriend, maybe go and talk to them about changing this.’ She was very helpful, and I like to be like that for all of the contestants. I always say, ‘If you want advice, come and find me and I’ll do my best to help you out.'”

Ricki-Lee and her husband, Rich Harrison.


Having hosted Australia’s Got Talent on her own, Ricki-Lee says it’s “so much fun” having Scott Tweedie as her co-host on Idol.

“It’s so nice having a partner in crime and having someone to bounce off and rib,” she says. “And he’s obviously hideous to look at!”

Ricki-Lee, 38, has been married to her manager, Rich Harrison, since 2015. The pair are currently working towards the release of her latest album, On My Own.

“We release everything now through our own record label,” she says. “We’ve been sitting here all day getting everything ready for the album, and we’ve got music videos and all these fun things happening. It’s nice to be able to do it all together. But it’s also nice to switch off and have that time where we go and just hang out.”

Australian Idol premieres on Monday 29 January 2024.


With her music, her TV hosting jobs and her drive radio show on Nova, Ricki-Lee has a lot going on. She says she learnt to work hard from the example set by her mother.

“My mum was a single mum until I was about eight,” she explains. “I watched her work several jobs at one time to make sure we had a roof over our head. I think my drive and ambition probably comes from that.

“I had to look after myself, because Mum had maybe done a shift until 4am and was asleep and I had to get myself to school and make sure I had lunch, so that made me very responsible and independent.”

Ricki-Lee says she’ll always be “so grateful and so thankful” to Australian Idol for the opportunity it gave her.

“Had I not come and auditioned, who knows? I wouldn’t be upset about it, but I would still probably be singing in pubs and bars on the Gold Coast. This was the foot in the door to the industry.”

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