Delta Goodrem says she always promised fans a return to North America – it just took a little longer than expected.
“I’m amazed when someone tells me, ‘I’ve been a part of this journey [with you] from afar,'” the Australian singer-songwriter said in an interview after her Canada Day weekend performance as the opening act for the Backstreet Boys in Toronto.
Despite earlier album releases in Canada and the United States, Goodrem’s music has largely flown under the radar in North America. But at home she is a real star.
her debut in 2003, innocent eyes, which she recorded and largely co-wrote as a teenager remains the best-selling album by an Australian artist of all time.
Since then she has had four more #1 albums and has made a name for herself on the small screen as a judge and mentor The voice of Australia for eight seasons and played on the theater stage.
She has performed with the likes of Andrea Bocelli and Olivia Newton-John and has written for Canadian singer Celine Dion. In January she was made a member of the Order of Australia.
Now, after two “resets” — first, paralysis that left her unable to sing, and second, a pandemic that both kept her off the stage and helped her connect with international fans online — the 37-year-old said Goodrem feels ready to spread her wings beyond Oz.
“It was always the plan to tour the show that we just finished in Australia,” Goodrem said, referring to her recent headlining tour. “I feel like I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else right now.”
Social media offer a “new world” for music
When Goodrem started her career 20 years ago, the music industry was very different. Physical CD sales triumphed and legal music downloads were only just beginning to gain popularity.
While she has performed with other artists on tours and promotional visits in Canada and the US in the years since, her headlining tours have been limited to Australia.
In a “new world” where musicians can perform online for fans at the touch of a button or release their music worldwide via music streaming services, the way she connects with fans has changed, she says.
“I see it as a new freedom, if you want to incorporate someone’s music into your life, there’s an easier way to do it. I think it’s very different than when we started,” Goodrem said.
During Australia’s strict pandemic lockdowns, Goodrem produced dozens of weekly concerts on Instagram, affectionately known as Bunkerdown Sessions, performing songs from her own catalog and covers of songs by other artists. The videos garnered hundreds of thousands of views.
“I started to realize how connected we all were around the world,” she said. “That was the beginning of realizing that there are so many people out there taking [in] my music again.”
Those sessions found their way to Stella Spiral Burger, a student in Markham, Ontario who became a fan of Goodrem in 2018 after stumbling upon their music on YouTube. The Australian artist’s recent stop in Toronto marked the first time Spiralburger had seen her live.
However, it was the Bunkerdown performances that connected her not only with Goodrem but also with a group of fans who became friends living on the other side of the world in Australia; She connected with them during the live streams.
“My friends kept telling me that there will never be an experience quite like seeing them live, and it was just so true,” said Schraubenburger.
Although some of Goodrem’s previous releases were only available in Australia and surrounding markets, she has been releasing albums internationally on a regular basis since 2016. And last year she made her entire discography available on streaming platforms around the world.
“I just want to perform”
In Goodrem’s latest “era,” as she calls it, she appears to be taking more creative control of her career, producing television specials with her own company and now bringing her music to new audiences alongside the Backstreet Boys.
It also has a soundtrack from their latest #1 album, bridge over troubled dreams, and the piano, which is the focus of her career.
“I kind of always have the same fingerprint,” Goodrem said. “I would always sit at my piano and really try to align the dance on the piano with the theme of what I’m feeling at that exact moment, on that exact day.
“It was very much about going back to the beginning, where the music begins for me, that’s my heart and the piano, and I built from there.”
The deeply personal album was partly inspired by that first reset. During surgery on a salivary gland in 2018, a damaged nerve left her unable to control her speech — or sing. One of the singles from the album, Paralyzedrecords this experience.
“The record was built on that reset — took everything away and started over,” she said.
After the lockdowns that have defined the pandemic and with concerts returning around the world, Goodrem says she wants to return to the stage and entertain fans – wherever they are.
Her tour with the Backstreet Boys in the USA will continue until the end of July.
“It feels like the right time to enjoy that freedom to come over and I just want to perform,” she said.
“My mission is to make sure we do a lot of live performances together and truly start a new era of music and life.”