Thornton freshman strums toward her musical destiny

Cordelia Degher knew she wanted to pursue a career in music when she was 5 years old growing up in a musically enthusiastic household. (Photo courtesy of Cordelia Degher)

For some, music is simply a career choice, but for others, it is a part of who they are as unique individuals. 

Cordelia Degher, a freshman majoring in popular music, hit the “American Idol” stage in 2017 when she was asked by one of the producers of the show to join one of their private showcases before eventually being sent to the next round on the show. The experience was surreal, Degher reminisced.

Degher was only 5 years old when she started singing and recorded her first song when she was just 10. Growing up in a musical household made it easy for Degher to experiment with music and learn all that comes with a career in the industry.

“I don’t even think I would be doing music at all if it weren’t for [my dad and sister]; I was kind of like, ‘Let’s do it.’ And all of a sudden, I was just writing songs, too, and I don’t even remember it happening,” Degher said.

Darius Degher, Cordelia’s father and mentor, has been a musician his whole life. Darius, a singer and songwriter, gave Cordelia the foundation for her music career to begin and produces all of her songs with her.

“I’m involved, I produce her recordings and I’ve advised her for almost her whole life just because it’s kind of an organic part of our family to love music,” Darius said. “I recommend the girls how to go about doing things and such, you know. But on the other hand, I’m not a stage parent kind of person. I don’t fuel up at her gigs and say, ‘Do it like that.’ She’s her own artist.”

When it comes to careers in music, it is important for a rising artist to receive the appropriate guidance on how to start but also how to make it far.

“I’ve always been honest with [both sisters],” Darius said. “I haven’t had any kind of grand success [in the music industry], yet I’ve been making records for my whole life, so I’ve been honest with them about that, and in a way, I haven’t really encouraged her very much, or her sister … for the most part, I have told the girls, if you’re sure you want to do this, it’s a really terrible business, and your chances of success are very low. And even if you are successful, are you sure you want it?”

Cordelia doesn’t tie her music to a singular genre and draws inspiration from diverse popular artists and styles of music in the industry. However, she described the sound of one of her songs as “dream pop,” although when she performs live she characterizes her guitar-playing as “folk-inspired” and vocals as R&B and contemporary.

“My biggest influences, not that I necessarily sound like them, but my biggest musical influences I would say are Lana Del Rey and Frank Ocean,” Degher said. “Those are like two of my favorite artists that I really am excited by.”

Gracie Hurley, a sophomore at Mira Costa College in San Diego, has had a close relationship  with Cordelia since their sophomore year of high school. Ever since she met Cordelia, she’s known of the singer-songwriter’s passion for music, and Hurley has since supported her unique sound.

“She has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard, and she writes amazing songs and I like it because she’s not trying to sound like anyone else,” Hurley said. “She definitely gets inspired by people, but she has her own really unique voice and sound, and so I love that about her and I think a lot of other people love that too.”

Since she started writing and making music when she was very young, her style of music has gone through various phrases as she evolved as an artist. Her EP “Open Up to Me” and single “Goodbye Song,” which came out in 2013, are samples of music that represented who she was during those years.

“I just think growing up, my sound has just matured over the years,” Degher said. “When I was a freshman in high school, I think, ‘Open Up to Me’ came out, and ‘Goodbye Song’ when I was in eighth grade, so I was just younger at that time and I didn’t really know what my sound was or my style.”

Cordelia said she hopes to continue sharing her music at future shows around Southern California and said she’s excited for her new journey.

“I mean, honestly, this is what I’ve wanted to do since I can remember — I’ve never really thought of wanting to do anything else,” Cordelia said. “I couldn’t really imagine it and now being at USC for this is like taking another step in my journey.”