Natalie Acciani has never fit one mold. In high school she balanced sports as well as music and theater, fully participating in several groups that usually do not associate themselves with one another. It makes sense, then, that her music would also blend together different genres, creating a style and sound completely her own.
Born and raised in southern New Jersey, it is surprising to find out that growing up all Natalie listened to was country music. She recalls that “until I was about eight, I didn’t even realize there were other kinds of music out there.” The reason? Her father would only play the local country station. It wasn’t because he was such a country music fan (in fact, her father had never even listened to country prior to having kids), but because he felt it was the only music appropriate for his kids to listen to. “It’s funny because I remember being really little and singing songs about drinking, cheating, and lying,” Natalie states. “Country songs were saying all the same things as pop songs - they just did it with class.”
She knew from an early age that all she wanted to do was sing. While other little girls dressed up in Princess costumes, Natalie would dress up like Shania Twain and dance around her room singing into a hairbrush. “Some kids had imaginary friends - I had an imaginary audience.” She even wrote her first song when she was six years old. She laughs as she remembers “It was so bad! It was called ‘Pocket & Wallet’ and it was seriously, completely ridiculous.”
She has come a long way since then, beginning professional vocal lessons at age 13 with world-renowned opera signer Badiene Magaziner. Natalie was classically trained in Opera first and then in Broadway, Jazz, and Contemporary styles. Training with Magaziner also helped Natalie get over her fear of singing in public. “I wanted to be a singer,” she says, “but I was terrified of singing in front of anyone. Training with Badiene forced me to get over that.”
Natalie continued to sing in high school as a member of several award-winning choirs and auditioned small groups. She also participated in a few of the musicals. It wasn’t until her later years in high school though, when she finally picked up a guitar and taught herself to play, that Natalie discovered her true passion, songwriting. “At first I was just learning the guitar so that I could accompany myself when I played other peoples’ songs. Then I started writing my own, and I couldn’t stop. It became an addiction.” That addiction led her to make the biggest decision of her life . . .
One month before her high school graduation, Natalie decided that the next fall she would not be attending college. “It was a huge decision for me. I was already enrolled in my top choice school, I had a scholarship, and I was going to play soccer. It was all planned out. I literally would be throwing everything away for a dream.” After several weeks of debating, however, the dream won. With her parents on board, Natalie was fully ready to get to work turning her dream into a reality. “The year after I graduated was when I really started to develop as an artist. I began writing better songs, getting more comfortable on stage, and really understanding who I was.” Since then she has been steadily performing around New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She has also taken several trips to Nashville where she was able to meet and write with established songwriters.
On her debut CD, entitled “A Dangerous Thing”, Natalie combines her love for country music with catchy pop melodies and rock beats, while her lyrics give depth to each song. She worked with producer Jimmy Heffernan who she says she was “incredibly lucky to meet and work with. Saying that he’s amazing would be an understatement!”
Natalie wrote every song on the album, including one dedicated to her friend, Jake, who passed away from cancer in 2009. Proceeds from Jake’s Song are being donated to the foundation set up in his name: The Jake Wetchler Foundation for Innovative Pediatric Cancer Research. For more information about Jake and this foundation, please visit www.dontletthecancerwin.org.