"...Everybody that's with me are wonderful believers of the music... and what we want to share with people over here [The United States] through hope and love and light through the songs..."
By Sydney Champagne
Delta Goodrem is talented. Undeniably talented. Enviably so. With a career that started at 15-years-old and her debut album still one of the highest-selling Australian albums of all time, that is obvious. But ‘talent without energy makes for paupers’ so what is it that drives her? Twenty years later, in this ever-changing industry, what is her secret? It’s her passion for life! She has dipped her toes in many different fields, including acting, advertising, art, writing music for other incredible artists and even judging on Australia’s The Voice, and it’s this enthusiasm that makes Delta such a success; a light in people’s lives; and an absolute treasure to her friends.
Starting her career so young, she is no stranger to change in the industry. But when the pandemic hit, she was faced with a problem: How does she keep the personal, almost tactile connection with her supporters alive; how to still reach her fans?
“I love being present with people…I’m not that person that’s just on their phone, I want to look people in the eye and actually talk to them,” she said. “So, I had to learn, life really forced me, and it forced everybody in the world to find new ways to connect to people around the world, through our phones.”
The idea she had to maintain that connection? “Bunkerdown” sessions. Every Thursday night she would live stream from her living room, and people across the world tuned in to listen to her play music. Raw and personal. It was a side of her that fans had never seen before… and she admits it wasn’t perfect at the start.
“…the first week was inaudible, you could not understand what I was singing,” she recalled with a laugh. “I thought I had done a great job of putting it all together and people were like ‘the WiFi is cutting out’…so I learned all these new skills of being able, just being able to do everything at home. But my personal evolution with this new era of connecting through our phones was through going live once a week, every single week from my living room. And we dedicated it to the doctors and the nurses, and everybody tuned in and it was a phenomenal connection.”
Bunkerdown became such a hit with her supporters that on her next tour she recreated her living room on stage. It was something different, but change is something that growing up in the music industry had prepared her for. “What I’ve always known in my entire career is ‘things will change’,” she said. “So everytime I go through something new I just go ‘I have to adapt quickly, I can’t just stay in what was yesterday’”.
“... That’s why it’s important I think for any artist to really speak from their heart for what they want to be a voice for...”
After two years of isolation, getting to play live music again was a reviving experience for Delta. Reflecting on her tour so far with the Backstreet Boys, she says, “Finally we had this beautiful moment of ten to twenty thousand people in a room singing my songs. Then I come over here and get to have a new challenge. New discovery for some people, and others that have had my music for ten, fifteen years that are coming to the shows and going ‘I never thought you would come to America and sing these songs’. They’re the ones that made the effort to come and say hi. So it’s very very beautiful and I feel very very grateful and I couldn’t be
happier for performing for people.”
Though she is the one on stage, she admits she could not do what she does without her crew, who she describes as her “touring family”, and is very grateful for the hard work and dedication they put into making the show flawless. “Everybody that’s with me is wonderful believers of the music and the message of the music and what we want to share with people over here [The United States] through hope and love and light through the songs,” she said. “You know I’m very very lucky that in this moment in my career I have people around me that are just absolutely on board, we are all on the train together. It’s beautiful.”
Delta has been inspired by many different artists from many genres across her career, from Celine Dion to Michael Bolton to Andrea Bocelli– but the person who is nearest and dearest to her heart, who she describes as “my mentor, my idol”, was Olivia Newton John. (Interview took place before Ms Newton John passed.)
Though inspiration in the outside world abounds, Delta finds much of her inspiration for her music in the normalities of her everyday life, or just at her piano. “Of course, you know, I think there is always inspiration around us,” she said. “And I think that I do genuinely sort of look for it in everyday life. Everyday something happens or you’re moving through it and even just, you know, processing every single moment. Also the music does guide so I do tend to just play my instrument. I’m a piano player so I just sit and dance on the piano, and you know sometimes in that moment as long as you’re having, feeling, a bit of freedom and being able to express yourself through sound as well as words, the sound can guide.”
Being a judge on Australia’s The Voice for nine years, Delta got to meet and work with many talented individuals who looked up to her, and some of whom inspired her in turn. She recalls working with an older man who was finally getting to live his dream of being a musician. “I always say that dreams don’t have an expiration date,” she says. “So I think it’s really important to me that I feel equally as inspired when the little ones come on and they’re filled with dreams as when all the different age groups perform, whether they’re 67, 70, 100 I don’t mind. To me, it’s about the experience and kind of finding what it is in their heart they want to have in that show, in that moment. And I remind everyone this is a moment and music is all about moments so you have to create your next moment.”
As a woman with a platform, Delta has dedicated a lot of time, energy, and resources into the Delta Goodrem Foundation. The Foundation works to raise money for doctors and hospitals to support them in their cancer research and cellular therapy. It supports a Fellowship program that is dedicated to research to finding a cure for blood cancers, like Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. As a survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma herself, this is a cause that is very personal to Delta.
“My passion as a cancer survivor , gives me something I can be a voice for, and it can be a voice for good,” she said. “That’s why it’s important I think for any artist to really speak from their heart and I think there are so many voices right now (and mine) for when it comes to the health landscape, the doctors, the nurses, is something that I would talk for days with you about.”
Delta’s passion– for music, for her supporters, for her Foundation, for her team and friends— is something that is noticeable as soon as she begins to speak. She is so animated about the things she is working on, and the people that helped her get here, that you can’t help be swept up by her when she talks to you; you can feel her love and excitement.
“I like to be a safe place, my music in general, my performances, I’m a safe place for all to come to and to enjoy and be a part of music, I genuinely am – artists are…human beings, they have all of the feelings, the emotions, the empathy. That’s why they do music because they feel so much. And that’s where I like to put all my energy into the songs; that’s always been kinda my way about, this way of creating through songs.”
Towards the end of our conversation, Delta quoted the 2007 film August Rush, saying “The music is all around us”. Music is certainly all around her, and she continues to find ways to spread that joy.
Whether it be through live shows or discussing cancer research or Bunkerdown sessions, Delta will find a way to connect with you– and you will be a better person for knowing her!
Photographers: Carlotta Moye, Kinga Nowicka, Ashleigh Larden