Natalie Brown planned to be a singer early on in her life. In fact, when she was but a little girl, her mother would sing to her. Natalie would chime in, doing, as she calls it, “a riff.” Her mother, misunderstanding her unique vocal patterns, would say, “Natalie, don’t sing. You can’t sing.”
Oh, but Natalie knew different. She knew, even as a little girl, that she was misunderstood. She could sing and it became her goal to prove it. When she was about seven, all on her own and without any family support or even awareness, she decided it was time to put herself to the test. She left for school that day with a single focus—she was going to try out for the choir. Once she did, and was accepted as a first soprano, she was delighted. And vindicated. “I came marching home,” she remembers, and she proudly told her mother, “I joined the choir.”
Talking to Natalie Brown, hearing the animation and genuine love for her craft which shines through even in her speaking voice, one can not question her determination. It is so easy to envision that single-focus little girl, knowing that she has grown up to be exactly what she always knew she already was . . . a singer. Yet there are countless numbers of talented vocalists to be found anywhere and everywhere in the world. What makes Natalie stand out? What has become the basis for the solid and non-stop growing success which she has acquired on her own terms?
Doc Quinn, a blues musician known online as Mistabluesman— http://www.docquinn.com —has repeated crossed paths with Natalie on the internet since at least 1999. He says about her, “If Nat's doing it, it'll work." Fairly simple words but with a serious intent behind them. Being the best businesswoman she can be as it relates directly to her own talent and craft, not anyone else’s, has become Natalie Brown’s single-focus. Just being able to carry a tune and create magical sound isn’t all there is to acquiring a fan base and making a serious go of it in the professional music world. Natalie has studied with big talents, figured out how to utilize the amazing power of the internet while never losing sight of its ever-changing nature, and she understands the far-reaching qualities of the World Wide Web. She garners fans with the touch of her mouse. She believes that in today’s world, an artist can have “a totally personal interaction” with her fans without ever leaving her computer, though that isn’t necessarily all there is for Natalie Brown. She is determined to work the entire package.
“The old way is dying,” Natalie says, “so we need to be on the forefront of what’s new and what’s working, and figure it out. We’re going to figure it out . . . this new model, while the old way of business is sitting there saying, ‘No, no, no. We have to keep what we have. Don’t let it go. Don’t let it go.’ But we say, ‘Let it go because it’s time. It’s time for something new. The world is changing.’”
And the folks who have known Natalie since way-back-when seem to agree that it has been for some time, and will continue to be, those artists like her who’ll forge ahead into that brave new way of doing business, of bringing their talent and artistry to a continuously growing audience.
Doc Quinn’s remarks verify this. “I have observed her for many years,” he says. “. . . she would seem to always be the first to inquire about anything new that was coming to be that would promote her and her music. Nat would ask questions about the new internet music innovations and the next thing I knew Nat was doing it on her own domain.” He was impressed with her determination to present her music and songs to fans all over the world, and he continues to find her innovative ways worth watching for his own career advancement. “I began putting my music on the internet back in 1999 and even today, I stop by Nat's homepage to see if I can pick up any little tricks or ideas from what I see Nat doing.”
On Natalie’s 2nd album, “Random Thoughts,” out earlier this year, one of her songs sums up her world—personal, musical, and all combined . . . since there really is very little separation between the two for Natalie Brown.
“Do what I wanna do//Say what I wanna say//Play how I wanna play//I am the Queen of me//and I’ve seen what can happen to your dreams//If you follow the main stream//Without question//I’ve gone through out much of my life//Listening to the voice inside. . . .”
Everything about Natalie bespeaks an intriguing combination of deep inner emotion on one end of the spectrum, and joyous playfulness at the other end—and conscious businesswoman everywhere in between. In the course of a few sentences, she goes from being naturally funny to introspective to boardroom bottom line. As she puts it, “There are two sides to me. There’s the artist, and there’s the business woman.”
It may have taken her over different roads than many who strive to make their art known but, make no mistake, Natalie Brown is in it to win. This is one woman who is not playing games when it comes to what she calls, without question, “her business.” With the way of the world moving more and more into the technological era, Natalie is determined to embrace that and make it work for her.
“I . . . have to think about my future and I have to think about the future of where this business is going . . . what I do know is that the ‘net is not going to be shut off,” she states matter-of-factly. When she’s asked about doing live shows, she replies, “All shows are . . . trying to promote music. So you can do the exact same thing online.” She hastens to add, “I really would like to do some more shows. I would prefer to do some shows before I put out another album. . . . My preference would be to work on my fan base and then do some shows, and then do another album . . . so we’ll see.”
Natalie and her management have thought this through with great deliberation, and they definitely have a plan. That plan is heavily geared towards the idea of building a fan base so that there are audiences already waiting for her when she plays an in-person venue. “When you talk about [it] . . . a radio promotion and a tour and a video—because you have to do all those three things together—and you’re talking, to do it well, five million dollars. You really do need five million dollars to do that.” She seems to shrug. “What do I need to develop my fan base online? I need an internet package and my computer. It’s crazy, really. So . . . as an independent artist . . . this is my way, this is my radio . . . this is my show, this is my connection, this is my meet-and-greet. This is everything all wrapped into one cute lil’ mouse. Point and click, baby.”
Natalie laughs, a happy, melodic sound. She has an upbeat outlook on life, one which has been based on her own individualized and unique set of trials and triumphs. It would surprise no one who has heard a Natalie Brown song that her musical roots grew out of her early years as a worship singer. Born and raised in Canada, Natalie's family wasn't religious. She wasn't brought up to be a Christian yet, as she puts it, “I became a Christian on my own, and un-became a Christian on my own.” She laughs. “It was probably my form of rebellion. And I think that was pretty good. Instead of turning to the bottle, I turned to God. The Bible was my bottle. I didn’t go through that whole ‘sleeping around’ thing. Instead I went to church.” She laughs again. “Um hmm . . . no bottle, just the Bible.”
It wasn’t long before Natalie, at about age 15, was leading church worship with her young soulful musical voice. “I started to get offers to lead worship at other churches and get paid,” she explains. “I thought, ‘Wow, you can get make money doing this.’” This reflects visions of the astute early business acumen Natalie would display a scant few years later, and hone continuously in her years to come in the professional music world.
So if Natalie wasn’t born to music in the church, what led her into this odyssey in the first place? It wasn’t long after she had “become a Christian” when Natalie went to listen to a mass choir that was visiting from Washington State. Natalie explains, “They came and sang, and I said, ‘Oh my God!’ It was so amazing to me because I felt like something broke through in me.” When the request came, “Any singers come up on the stage,” Natalie felt compelled. “I went on the stage. I didn’t even know what I was doing. I just started to riff, basically. . . . It was a really weird experience. I felt changed from that day. Whether it was the spirit, or whatever, I just knew what I loved.” She says wistfully, “I fell in love with gospel music. I just wanted that.”
How did Natalie Brown go from singing Christian worship music like a soulful choir singer to becoming the enigmatic, naturally sexy and savvy singer of blue-eyed soul which she is internationally known to be today? How did she go from receiving modest honorariums as a visiting church worship leader to being a pop star of the internet world, with fans at every point on the globe? How is it that Natalie Brown has become big-scene recognized—through her talent and her amazing business acumen—by the likes of world-renowned music sensations, Alicia Keyes and Teena Marie?
Part II of From Queen of Me to Queen of Indy Music, Blue-Eyed Soul Singer Natalie Brown Finds Success Doing it Her Way delves into the journey Natalie has taken to get where she is today . . . and where she intends to be tomorrow and next year and tens of years from now. As she puts it, “It’s going to get more and more and more do-able . . . so we need to swallow it, say, ‘That’s how it’s going to be,’ take steps and . . . be a part of that revolution.”
And a revolution is certainly is. Stay tuned next week and get on the bandwagon with Natalie Brown. While you’re waiting for the rest of her story, visit her website and listen to clips of her music: http://www.natalie-brown.com/music.html