On this day 12 years ago, a 19 year old Delta Goodrem found out she had Hodgkins Lymphoma. In the following weeks would come the official press conference and too many magazine tributes to count. Blitzing it on the Aussie music scene with her #1 hit “Born to Try” only a year before, her debut album Innocent Eyes would go on to become the highest selling album in Australia of the decade.
I was one of those many Australians who became a devoted Delta fan in the early days. As a 13 year old, the beautiful and talented lady was all I aspired to be: positive, hopeful and able to make a real difference in the world. When I found out about her diagnosis, I cried.
Today marks 12 years since that iconic day. Why do I say iconic? Well, why it was fundamentally significant in the personal life of Delta, it shaped the way Australian’s relate to music. Just like we had taken ownership of Olivia Newton John and John Farnham back in the day, now were a new generation of Australians- my generation, stepping up and giving back to the musicians who had shaped our lives.
It goes without saying that Delta Goodrem was Australia’s sweet heart in the early 00’s. But as she walked through her diagnosis, treatment, and thankfully her recovery, there was a sense that we were there with her, and she with us. Her first single post remission came out the following year and was named “Out of the Blue.” It was full of love and light- a tale of unexpected surprises. The singer’s journey through illness had undeniably changed her, but she still carried that bold and endearing spark.
Just as she had shared her battle with fans, she chronicled it in her new music. The era of Mistaken Identity was darker, more mature and divinely unafraid to step out and explore the most broken parts of humanity. Her song “Extraordinary Day” was her own narrative of the day of diagnosis.
There is so much more we could say about Goodrem. She went on to release two more albums, starred in a movie, and has so far has achieved eight #1 singles and three #1 albums. The night she walked the red carpet of the 2003 ARIA Awards, resplendent in her pink dress and delicate blonde wig which likened her to a fairy princess, is still etched in Australian musical folklore.
Today, 12 years later, the Australian public still knows Delta. Through the ups and downs of the industry and the Aussie tendency to tear down some of our most talented folk with tall poppy syndrome, she has bared it all and now sits as one of five judges on her third series of The Voice.
Delta Goodrem is but one of many people to fight cancer. She is one of the fortunate ones who have beaten it. Is she extraordinary for her success? Perhaps. But rather, I think the real reason Delta has left her mark on the Aussie music scene, is because she has consistently and bravely maintained her integrity and honesty, and this has endeared her to our hearts.
Who knows what the sound of Delta will be in the future. Her most recent album Child of the Universe brought us back full circle to that 18 year old, barefoot at the piano. And today as she mentors upcoming Aussie talent, it seems she has finally found her place in this world as an uncompromising, radiant and authentic person.
To me, today marks the moment I truly connected with a far off musician on a human level. It signifies a moment the Australian public stood by one of their own. And it marks the day Delta Goodrem began a new chapter, one of many since, in her own life.
Most of all though, this reminds me of the day I received a letter from a very sick Goodrem. Taking the time to respond personally to every single fan letter sent to her during her diagnosis, I received a post card back some months later personally signed by the singer. Naively, I had sent her the lyrics to a song I had penned. The chart topping singer responded back, “Thank you for your beautiful song.” It meant the world to a young teen struggling to get out of bed every day, and looking back, I see that it shaped what I do and why I do it.
Happy 12 years Delta. May today be a moment of celebration and victory; a reminder that we shall never ever give up, because we have the capacity to bare love and light to the world no matter what our circumstances may be.