Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Natalie Douglas!


Treat people the way you want to be treated – professionally, personally, on the bus, from the stage – it applies everywhere.  Natalie Douglas' personal philosophy
Happy Tuesday!
On Thursday, I'm leaving for Palm Springs. Part of me is thrilled at the chance of getting away. But I'm torn. I'm going to be missing Natalie Douglas' birthday show at Birdland on the 16th. I  have been in love with her ever since I saw her at the piano bar, Broadway Baby, in the 1980s. This was your typical piano bar on the upper West side. But when Natalie got up and sang, she wasn't your typical piano bar singer. She had a seasoned quality in her voice that evoked images of Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, and Nina Simone, all rolled into one with a little Dakota Station thrown in for good measure. As a matter of fact, she has done tributes to both Ms. Horne and Ms. Simone. I still remember the very first song I heard Natalie sing. It was Rodgers and Hart's' Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered from Pal Joey. I remember getting goosebumps.  I also remember that although I had heard this particular song  hundreds of times and also by many different singers, it was as if I was hearing this song for the very first time. That is the gift that Natalie Douglas possesses. No matter what she sings, when she sings, where she sings, she is ALWAYS in the moment and living the song. that is also the difference between a great entertainer and a good performer. A great entertainer is not focused on themselves, but rather on the material and the audience. Natalie Douglas is always a master class on how to do it. Do yourself a favor and go see Natalie on the 16th at Birdland. You will thank me. For those of you who think you already know Natalie, I hope this blog brings new insights. For the rest of you, please allow me to introduce to you someone that I have been a fan of from the first moment I ever saw her.
Count Bassie
I asked Natalie to tell me about the first live show that she remembers seeing. She said she's not sure what her first show ever was, but the one that made the biggest impact, was a Southern California visit from the Count Basie Orchestra. They got all dressed up-she wore her first full-length gown!(She was six… It was a big deal to her) She enjoyed Act One, which was the orchestra playing its most well-known and beloved tunes. And then to begin Act Two, a gorgeous, beautifully dressed, brown skinned man came out on stage and in front of the curtain and began to saying "Something to Live For". This was the incomparable Joe Williams and you could have heard a pin drop in that packed hall He had the audience in the palm of his hand.
Natalie said she was hooked! She remembers vividly the moment during the song when she started to breathe again. It was a stunning moment of musicianship, intelligence, humor and heart-and then, she knew what she desired to do. This wasn't Long Beach Arena.
Natalie tells me that she was constantly exposed to the arts growing up, Her mom and dad thought it would make for a well-rounded upbringing, plus they personally loved music, theater, literature, opera, classical music etc. and they believe the experience of seeing these things live was as valuable if not more, as hearing them on record. 
Natalie was encouraged to read every sort of book and listened to all of the music they owned. She was also enrolled in drama, ballet, tap, piano and harp lessons as soon as she could walk.Her mom taught her to sing in the kitchen at the age of four. Additionally, they went to see almost everything that came through Los Angeles or its suburbs. 
Natalie's first time on stage was when she was four years old. She played the Mother Cat to the "Three Little kittens who've lost their mittens."
Her first paid show biz gig was on a local TV show, when she was about five or six. She wore a red velvet dress with a white Peter Pan collar which she says was stunning! She sang away in a Manger for the station's Christmas show. She recalls she was paid $45 and she felt like this was the best job ever! 
Your thoughts on Arts in Education
It’s vital, like oxygen. I’ve built my own program as a visiting artist in schools, sharing with the students the way in which music & history intersect (i.e. the Civil Rights Movement and Music or World War II and its Songs) I just love watching them understand history a bit more, while simultaneously realizing that these songs, though written years before they were born, belong to them. It’s a beautiful moment.
 "Laughter is much more important than applause. Applause is almost a duty. Laughter is a reward." -- Carol Channing
Your thoughts on Carol Channing (All my blogs focus on Carol Channing’s Foundation For The Arts)
I adore Carol. I’ve had a soft spot for her ever since I saw her as Muzzy in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” when I was a kid. She’s unique, charming, full of humor and completely herself at all times – qualities I hold in the highest regard.
I’m campaigning for Carol Channing to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor in 2012. If you agree that she should receive this honor, can you say why you think this should happen
The Kennedy Center Honors were created to celebrate those who’ve made exemplary  and consistent cultural contributions to American life. Carol Channing is the very definition of this achievement. She should certainly be recognized for her lifetime body of work, not the least of which is the foundation she formed with her late husband to promote arts education.



 
Most recent appearance
My two NYE shows a few days ago. Totally thrilling & fun to do!
Next appearance
My Birthday Show at Birdland on Monday January 16th. Can’t wait to celebrate my birthday with songs I love and people I love all in the same room!
What is your biggest success in Show Business
Longevity and the drive to keep improving. I never stop learning about my voice, music, words – all the tools I use to do what I love to do.

 
What was your lowest low and how did you surpass that?
The first time I ever had any vocal trouble, several years ago. I wasn’t sure what to do at first and worried that my voice had lost something and would never be the same again. Fortunately, my husband didn’t let me wallow in the presumed “end”. He helped me find a great doctor and vocal coach and they diagnosed my acid reflux and showed me how to heal. In fact, the resonance came back quickly and over the last couple of years I’ve added notes to my range at both ends!
What one change would you like to see in today’s industry?
I’d love to see singers who can really sing! Which is not to say there are none – Adele and Justin Bieber (love him or hate him, he can really sing) come to mind, but there are so many “singers’ who are famous, but are complete studio fabrications.
There’s a video from last month of Mavis Staples, Nick Lowe & Wilco running thru a song backstage before a performance – no one is miked, no digital tricks and they sound FANTASTIC!! She’s 72 and I thought, “which one of the female singers on the pop charts today will be able to do that in 50 years?”
Who are your TOP FIVE models and influences as an artist?
Dr. Nina Simone

Dr. Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, Judy Garland, The Eagles, and Abbey Lincoln.



The Eagles


Abbey Lincoln

What do you think ultimately made you become a performer?
My parents certainly didn’t realize it, but they gave me a brilliant foundation for becoming a performer. I learned to love music very early and immerse myself in it totally. I just love it! It sounds simplistic, but the truth is I’m happiest onstage singing songs I love for people who want to listen.
Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career?
Absolutely, though I’d not say “No” to a few more gigs a year.
Do you feel you have achieved what you set out to do?
In large part. I get to sing songs that fascinate me for this great mixed bag of people – some friends, some strangers, some familiar with the material, some not and best of all, some who become fans of the songs too.



What do you do to remain positive when life's hiccups get you down?
I’m very fortunate to have a loving husband and the best possible friends in the world. They’re all a huge help and comfort to me. My sure-fire remedy to life’s inherent bumpiness is to laugh about it all – I mean I cry, rant,  and try to improve the situation too, but ultimately laughing is my way through.
If you had all the money in the world...that you needed...would  you continue working.
Yup. No doubt about it.
A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes?
Assuming the wishes have to be personal rather than global, (ending world hunger etc.):
1.  Good Health for myself & all my loved ones.
2.  A financial cushion large enough to be generous to all of my family/friends
3.  A chance to meet & sing with all of my musical idols
If you could travel anywhere in the world and spend some time there, where would you choose, and what would you do?
There are many places I’d love to see again and some for the first time, but after a quick jaunt to Paris, I’d probably like to settle in London for a while. Two of our dearest friends live just outside London with their gorgeous daughter (and sweet puppy, Arthur) and it’s been 4 years since they returned to the UK. I would dearly love to sing in the UK, whilst being near enough to take tea with my lovely gal pal.
I have been following Natalie's career for quite awhile, and was always stunned when I watched her perform. When I was putting together my BIRDLAND show, I just knew that my song "I NEVER THOUGHT" would be perfect for her sensibility. I know it isn't the kind of music she usually performs, but it felt right. I asked her, and without hesitation she said yes. Once we worked on the song, I knew it was a perfect fit. After her performance at BIRDLAND, I immediately asked her to be a part of my album, and a few days later, we recorded it. I think Natalie is a rare gift to the world of cabaret. SHe is able to connect with a lyric so personally, but yet, with such subtlety that you find yourself wondering if she had actually written the lyrics! She has mastered the art of stillness on stage which gives her strength, warmth, connection. I am very grateful to have finally had the chance to work with her, and can't wait to work on something else. Scott Evan Davis
I think Natalie's terrific! She's fun, wickedly irreverent,gracious and genuine all at once - one of the best examples I know of someone who has a zest for life.... all this and a FAB voice too!  Maureen Taylor

 MONDAY JANUARY 16 - NYC
NATALIE DOUGLAS returns to BIRDLAND JAZZ CLUB
NEW SHOW

*THE BIRTHDAY SHOW*
The Birthday Show is an offering of the musical influences in Natalie’s life; from the eclectic tastes of her late parents to the music of her native Southern California, her ancestral East Texas roots and her adulthood in New York City. The Birthday Show will be guided by the inspiration of The Eagles, Dr. Nina Simone, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, The Carpenters, Blossom Dearie, Ray Charles, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Alice Faye, Fred Astaire, Phyllis Hyman, Nancy Wilson and many more.Come celebrate Natalie's birthday, MLK Day and a brand new year at the legendary Birdland Jazz Club!
@ 7:00PM
Birdland Jazz Club
315 W. 44th Street
between 8th & 9th Avenues
$30 tickets, plus $10 food/drink minimum
Tickets:
ticketfly.com
Info:
birdlandjazz.com
Reservations: 212-581-3080






Visit Natalie's website





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                                   Tomorrow's blog will be...CELEBRATING ANNA BERGMAN!

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!



Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!


Now, GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TOMORROW!

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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED 2012!
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

Natalie and Billy Joe Young

1 comment:

  1. I ADORE Natalie and fell in love with her the first time I saw her at 88s. She sang a not so well-known tune recorded by the great Irene Krall (way before Diana - Irene was the sister of Roy Krall of Jackie and Roy fame). As soon as I heard her do this I felt "connected" to her because we now had this Irene connection. I wrote her this gushing fan letter (by email) and I re-read it and thought she'd think I was nuts but she didn't. She responded so sweetly and we became email friends. Natalie is also one of the most generous and delightful singers out there and I consider her a mentor by example. Also, the year that I won the MAC Award in the jazz/pop/other category, I was in that category with Natalie and while I didn't think I had a snowballs chance in hell at winning, I did. Natalie was sitting in the wings waiting to go on for her number (she was a guest singer on the show) and SHE was the first person to stand up and hug and congratulate me. She is a real class act and I'll never forget that moment.
    Sue Matsuki

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