Natalie Di Luccio speaks to BollyGraph!

Blessed with an exceptional voice, Natalie Di Luccio believes in following her instincts.  With an Italian background, this award winning Toronto-born singer aims to bridge the gap between the East and West through her music. Natalie started learning classical music at the age of nine and has been a part of many musicals. Some of her theatre credits include Cosette in Les Misérables and Sour Kangaroo in Seussical: The Musical.

In 2010, she posted her renditions of Bollywood songs on Youtube. These videos garnered millions of hits leading to her worldwide recognition. This also made her popular in India and she was invited for various singing assignments. Her passion for music made her join the Cardinal Carter Academy for Arts in Toronto. She studied at the renowned Schulich School of Music at McGill University, Montreal. While at McGill, she was chosen as the anthem singer for all sporting events. In 2008, she sang the Canadian and American national anthems at the first ever National Football League in Toronto. Natalie has a flair for languages and sings in Italian, French and Hindi. Her Bollywood journey began in January 2009 when she came to India and worked on a fusion album.

Known for her exceptional singing talent, Natalie was spotted by legendary music composer A.R. Rahman and she has performed with him at three concerts. She has also recorded the Michael Jackson Tribute song and a Ganesha mantra with Sonu Niigaam.

Her recent Bollywood projects include songs like Moments in Life (Chalo Dilli), Aadha Ishq (Band Baaja Baarat), Fatal Attraction (Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl) and Tenu Tak De (Bittoo Boss). She has also sung the background scores for Jail, Singham and Agent Vinod. Natalie has performed with Sivamani and also recorded for popular artists such as Salim Suleiman, Raghav Sachar, Amit Trivedi and Amar Mohile. Recently, she recorded a Marathi song for the movie English Vinglish, which marks the return of yesteryear diva Sridevi back on the silver screen. With many more interesting projects in the pipeline this musical sensation is truly someone to watch out for!

We caught up with her on the journey she had in the B-Town and how she is living her life to the fullest. Over to Natalie:

We don’t see many foreigners in the loop for Bollywood singing but you have been an execeptional success story, an inspiration for every other aspiring singer from the world. How was the entire journey like? Was it tough or was it smooth?

My parents put me in singing lessons when I was 5 years old. I always use to sing as a child and my brother had a fascination with the guitar so they put both of us into music lessons.  Music was my only interest while growing up. I never missed a lesson and as I grew older I became much more serious about it. My mom use to drive me around every day after school for music classes, auditions, rehearsals, piano/dance lessons, meetings… you name it. I wanted to do everything…I owe her and my dad for everything today. My parents have sacrificed a lot and let me take a lot of chances and have had to deal with a lot of slack from others. I remember as a child they would make me practice 30 minutes of singing and 30 minutes of piano daily before I was allowed to go outside with my friends.  I entered singing competitions from the age of 6 and got accepted into a high school for singers and other art forms when I was 12.  After graduating from high school I went on to McGill University to study Western Classical Voice.  A career in music was my only option. I had no backup plan.

So, is there anyone else in the family who has interests towards Music?

Funny enough both of my parents can’t sing but they love music. Some of my cousins on my fathers’ side are wonderful singers. My dad comes from Napoli, Italy a place very famous for western classical music. I have that same Neapolitan texture to my voice so I know it comes from my father.

As an artiste, who are the ones you imbibe and draw inspiration from?

I am heavily influenced by singers like Andrea Bacilli, Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman and Hayley Westerner. They sing in a style called ‘Classical Crossover” which is a mainstream approach to singing classical music.  Two of my favourite singers and inspirations of all time is Celine Dion & Whitney Houston.  I’ve grown up singing and listening to all of their songs. When it comes to Indian singers, I am a big fan of Atif Aslam because I feel he sings from his heart. I also love the voices of Sonu Nigam, Vishal Dadlani and Shankar Mahadevan.

While everyone dreams and waits for a Bollywood project, you landed up and struck gold. How did the first offer come about?

One day I was in my school library and got a message from an Indian musician on Myspace. He messaged me about coming to India. I wasn’t even going to respond because often one gets random messages on MySpace, but I did, saying ‘Thanks so much, may be one day’. A few months later he got in touch again and said he was doing music for an album and wanted me to sing from Canada. So I recorded and sent him what he wanted. After a few months I got a CD. My voice was on Sonu Nigam’s Maha Ganesha album. He had been working on Sonu’s album. At that time I did not know who Sonu was. I have an Indian aunt who I am very close to .She saw the album and told me how Sonu is very famous in India. I started looking up Sonu and his music and I loved his work. Then I also started researching more on Indian music. After this, I decided to take up Tushar’s offer first and come to India. His wife is a singer and he wanted to do a fusion album.  It was from my first trip that I was introduced to Bollywood.  India just sucks you in. I fell in love with Bollywood films and Indian music. I also started meeting a lot of people working in films which made it all the more interesting to watch. After experiencing all of this, I knew this was something I liked and wanted to be a part of.

Other than singing, do you play any instrument too? 

I play some piano and I’ve started learning guitar now as well. I am really enjoying it!

 If you could change and metamorphose yourself to any other form of genre, what would you choose and why?

I am happy where I am but I would love to be able to do alaaps with my voice… It is super difficult for someone coming from western classical singing! Maybe one day.  Who knows?

Bollywood, also has negatives along with the positives. For instance, you would have noticed than an actor is related more to a song than the singer who has sung the song. Does that bog you down since it takes away the charm of recognition from the singers?

It does. I wish singers got more credit in Bollywood. I don’t like that even in the music videos that are aired on TV they rarely put the singers name in the credit. I feel it is disrespectful. I think Bollywood should star featuring more singers in their music videos as well. Many times people don’t know who is singing! In the west if a film has  an actor singing, the actor itself almost always does it. Bollywood should also start casting actors who sing or vice versa for their films to give the music/ singing more authenticity.

If you had to sum up the entire journey, what would you say?

I am living everyday to the fullest and thanking God for giving me this opportunity to go on a grand journey. I know how lucky I am to have these experiences and I don’t take it for granted. I will never pass up an opportunity to learn and explore new horizons.  This is what life is about.

Since you are into plays and stuff, do you ever plan or wish to become an actor and settle for a career here?

I studied acting throughout my life and did many plays. I would love to act on the big screen someday. My first priority is music but if something great comes along I would love to.

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