Amid the frustration Delta Goodrem hit reset – and found her voice again

She signed her first record contract at 15, appeared on Neighbours from 17 and, a year later, had the number one album in the country with Innocent Eyes – before her battle with cancer put everything on hold. Delta Goodrem is used to being in the public eye – she grew up in it.

Her latest health struggle, however, took place without anyone but those closest to her knowing.

Delta Goodrem.Credit:Carlotta Moye

"I think this had to be a private journey for me," she says in her first interview about the nerve damage done to her tongue after complications from salivary gland removal. "I'm not the sort of person who puts up a photo saying 'this is what I am going through'. I go through a million different things as a person every week that are private and I am grateful that I was able to go through that privately."

The nerve damage made controlling her tongue difficult and some sounds impossible to make correctly. For someone whose livelihood relies on their voice, the situation was confronting.

"I don't think I need to say out loud the reality of the conversations I was having with myself then," she says. "I think when people go through different challenges there's a surrender for a while and there's many layers of frustration, and then there's a long process of hard work."

Daily speech therapy paid off and Goodrem has now recovered into a new normal with her speech, the impediment she suffered now indiscernible. During recovery, she began work on her upcoming sixth album, with lead single Paralyzed revealing her condition. Despite the obvious lyrics, no one cottoned on.

"To learn to speak again
Amongst the frustration
How do I begin?"

Goodrem says she was prepared to answer questions about it all if anyone asked, but nobody did. She eventuallydecided to tell the story herself and last month released a video on social media that captured the immediate impacts of the operation, as well as her year-long recovery.

In the video she describes the nerve damage as a "rebirth", and that theme continued as she recovered. She cut her hair shorter and moved away from cosmetic additions she had become accustomed to.

"That reset, it made me want to take everything away. I didn't want as much on me, I didn't want the lashes… I just didn't want pieces and I just kind of really got back to zero," she says. "It just changed everything, really."

Dedicated fans will hear that change in her latest single Solid Gold. While less of a personal story than Paralyzed, the impact of going back to zero and reassessing everything can be felt sonically as Goodrem sheds the pop princess crown and revealsan edgier side.

The steady release of singles is the run-up to her as-yet-untitled new album, which will be released in time for her tour in 2021.

While most artists have held off announcing tour dates, Goodrem says it was important that she had a goal to reach and something to look forward to for herself and for her fans.

"I've experienced that you have to have things to look forward to when you're going through something. I spoke about this when I was younger, that when I was well enough each two weeks I would go to Flower Power to get hot chocolate with mum … it was a big deal having that to look forward to," she says.

"So I am more than happy to go first and put a tour out in April and May because I believe we have to find a way to connect with music. I won't get offstage because I will be that happy to be there."

Solid Gold is available now through Sony Music. The Bridge Over Troubled Dreams tour kicks off in Brisbane in April.

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