Delta Goodrem: 'I feared I would never sing again'

·5-min read
Australian singer Delta Goodrem said she had to learn how to speak - and sing again - after an operation left her with nerve damage (Image: Getty Images)
Australian singer Delta Goodrem said she had to learn how to speak - and sing again - after an operation left her with nerve damage (Getty Images)

She produced the second best-selling Australian album of all time, yet Delta Goodrem found herself wondering if she would ever sing again after having an operation on her salivary gland.

The 36-year-old was discussing the operation on White Wine Question Time, and explained how she unfortunately suffered from nerve damage, which affected her ability to speak — and sing.

“That damage meant that I had to then learn how to speak again and how to be able to pronunciate,” Goodrem explained to podcast host Kate Thornton.

“It was a complete paralysis, and it was a lot of hard work, a lot of determination.”

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For the Australian singer, not only did she have to learn to speak again, but she was worried that it would affect her ability to sing.

“I went to rehab with my with speech therapy — every single day learning how to speak,” she revealed.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 25:  Delta Goodrem performs during a preview of the Sydney Australia Day festivities at the Sydney Opera House  on January 25, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
Delta Goodrem performs during a preview of the Sydney Australia Day, 2021 (Don Arnold/WireImage)

“It was obviously, as a singer, deeply troubling at the time. I understood this was such a fight that I had to go through. I spent all the time trying to speak and learning and had a wonderful speech therapist, wonderful doctors, so I could be able to make the new record again."

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While the operation took place in 2018, Goodrem only revealed last year to her fans via her Instagram account about the struggle she had been through. She said that while it was a ‘private path’ that she had walked, she was happy to have shared the video about her recovery.

MELBOURNE - JANUARY 28:  Delta Goodrem performs during the presentation of the Allan Border Medal at the Crown Palladium Ballroom in Melbourne, Australia on January 28, 2003. The Allan Border Medal is awarded to Australia's best cricketer over the last 12 months in Tests and One-Day Internationals. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Delta Goodrem performin in 2003 (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

“I've lived my life in the public eye my entire life since I was a teenager,” she explained.

“It was a really private path, but I'm thankful that when I released that video, the amount of people that came forward and shared with me… I just had this beautiful connection to people.”

Listen: Delta Goodrem talks about how technology has help keep her connected to her fans during the pandemic

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This isn’t the first health crisis Goodrem has gone through. When she was just 18, after the release of her record-breaking album Innocent Eyes, the star was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. After going through chemotherapy and radiation therapy, she announced she was in remission in December 2003.

Goodrem said that while cancer was hard, calling herself a “proud cancer survivor”, she was at least able to find fellow cancer sufferers to share the load with. This time round however, she struggled to find those that had gone through something similar, so asked her speech therapist for help.

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”As a new battle and a different area of my life, I found it really hard, so I asked my dear speech therapist to bring a bit of the community together and we had such a lovely conversation about communication challenges and what it takes to overcome them,” she explained to Thornton.

She continued: “It was very special to kind of come out the other side and then speak to everybody about their own journey — it was really, really beautiful.”

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Asked by Thornton if the experience had taught her any life lessons, Goodrem revealed it had given her a whole different understanding of life because she quite literally had to be silent.

“So many lessons learned but a very silent moment, a very still moment, a very quiet moment to listen and observe and it's kind of where the new record started,” she revealed.

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“It was going back to basics — when you have to be the listener and observe and, and I guess listen to life and work out where the compass leads you to next.”

With her seventh studio album, Bridge Over Troubled Dreams, due out this month – along with a book of the same title – her ability to sing is back, but she says her voice isn’t quite like it was before.

“I think that it's different ever since, for sure,” she said.

Delta Goodrem performs during the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium in the Gold Coast, Australia.
Delta Goodrem performed during the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Commonwealth Games (PA)

“It changes slightly the [vocal] placement, but you know I feel like I've been in full flight with my voice singing away.

“It's like going through any reset, I don't think things can be the same. You can't go back to where you were before some big challenge like that in your life.”

Calling the whole experience another ‘chapter’ in life, Goodrem now tries to look at it as a positive learning episode.

18 April 2004 - DELTA GOODREM wearing a black jersey creation by fashion designer PETER- MORRISSEY, with diamonds sparkling from three strands hanging from the shoulder over her back ,  arriving at the 46th TV Week Logie Awards  at the Crown Casino -  Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. (Photo by Regis Martin/Getty Images)
Delta Goodrem in 2004 (Regis Martin/Getty Images)

She told Thornton: “I always think every time something challenging comes up in my life… Lets me have a new understanding of something maybe I didn't understand before, but I had definitely had a lot of discoveries!”

Hear Delta Goodrem talk about Neighbours and living her life in the spotlight in the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Watch: Delta Goodrem opens up about having to learn to talk again