Quick Q and A with Natalie Acciani

Natalie describes her music as “country infused folk-rock” and that may be true but audience members have used the words “authentic, relevant and inspiring.”   Natalie’s song lyrics as well as her blog, “Don’t Forget to Love Yourself” have motivated her listeners and readers alike.  Her musical sensibility is apparent and it’s looking like nothing but a bright future for this young woman from New Jersey.

There’s lots more to learn about Natalie Acciani on her website.

Here’s a video of Natalie singing her song “A Dangerous Thing.”

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 Your biography says that you began vocal training with an opera singer when you were only 13 years old.  How did you discover that you had a big golden voice? Were you in school plays in middle and junior high?

Honestly, I don’t think I ever thought of my voice as anything special. I just knew that I loved to sing. My dad entered me in a raffle where the winner got a free voice lesson with Badiene Magaziner (a former opera singer who has a phenomenal voice and is an equally phenomenal teacher). We won, so I got to go and after that first lesson I was hooked. It was really Badiene who helped me realize the potential I had with my voice and helped me mold and control it. I owe a lot to her.

In middle school I only did the musical one year. Because I was the tallest one in the play they asked me to be a tree because they didn’t have time to build one. Literally, I was a human tree . . . My friend had to climb on top of me every night for the show. Needless to say, after that experience I decided to just stick to chorus.

It sounds like you really got a good feel for various kinds of music during your high school years between singing for various choirs and auditioning for small music groups.  Do you remember your first solo and how you felt?

In high school I loved singing but was too nervous to ever let anyone hear me. It took me until senior year to actually gather the courage to audition for a solo. The vocal department was hosting a coffeehouse fundraiser and students could audition to be a part of it. I auditioned with “And I Am Telling You” from Dreamgirls. I got in and I remember the night of the show being absolutely terrified, but after it was over I had this overwhelming feeling of knowing where I belonged. It was unlike anything else I had experienced before.

Since those days you’ve learned how to play the guitar and have gotten into songwriting.  What inspires you to sit down and write a song?   

For me, inspiration for writing can come from absolutely anything, but most of the time I’ll start to write when I need to work through something. Sometimes songwriting can be like a really great, really cheap therapy session where I’ll sit down with the guitar in the beginning and have no idea how I’m feeling about a certain person/event, but then by the end of writing the song I have complete clarity.

Tell us about your time in Nashville.  How did you get into songwriting with some Nashville writers?

The most amazing thing about Nashville is the writing community. Everyone there writes their own songs, so if you go and play you are almost guaranteed to meet other writers. It’s all about networking and finding the people that you click with creatively. I started networking and going to events where you could get feedback from seasoned writers and publishers and from those events I gained a lot of writing contacts.

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 What kind of experience did you have working on your two recordings?  Do you like the studio experience?

Recording my second project was a very different experience than recording the first one. When I recorded my first CD I was still pretty inexperienced. I was completely unsure of what I wanted or how I wanted to sound and was definitely very insecure. My producer, Jimmy Heffernan, was great though and eased me into the process. I’ve grown a lot since the first album, but I’m still really proud of it and a lot of the songs on there. It was a great way for me to be introduced to studio recording.

By the time I recorded the second project I had a lot more confidence in who I was as a writer and an artist. I had a very clear picture of what I wanted which translated well in the studio. Glenn Barratt produced it and was so great at turning my vision into a reality. I got to record with a live band and everyone was on the same page. It was an incredible experience from start to finish and made me fall in love with the recording process. There’s something amazing about watching your songs come to life.

We’d love to know what it is about Carole King that you like the most.  Were you exposed to her music at an early age or did you discover her as a young woman?

Her versatility, hands down. She can write a song about anything and make you believe it. That’s so rare.

I remember hearing her music growing up, but it wasn’t until I started writing songs of my own that I really started delving into her music. When I first heard the Tapestry album, I listened to it over and over again just trying to soak it all in. I feel like just listening to her songs can make you a better writer and I definitely look up to her a lot.

 Your work as a motivational speaker sounds truly inspiring.  How did you come to realize that you could convey your life experiences and make a difference?

It was completely accidental. At shows people were starting to come up to me and talk about how a few of my songs were helping them through difficult situations. I realized that a lot of what they were going through were things that I had experienced. After I realized that, I started to explain the stories behind those songs before I would play them. It resonated with a lot of people and from there I got asked to combine speaking/singing for different schools and other women’s events. It’s been an incredible experience because it made music bigger than just performing. It became about people connecting and healing through music.

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