New year, new chance!

Happy New Year!

It seems a tad late to say that now, don’t you think? But as this is the first blog post of the year for me, I thought I would throw it in there. What a whirlwind end to 2017 I had, it’s been crazy trying to keep up with everything that has been happening in my life, and unfortunately, this has meant that certain things have slipped by the way side. I certainly didn’t get to film as many videos as I would have liked of my December antics – which included a pantomime, multiple performances, and switching on the lights in Eastbourne Town Centre on their opening night – but I did enjoy every second of everything that happened. I think, in a world where we are glued to our phones and screens, perhaps I enjoyed the season much more without it constantly in my hand? Here are a few photos that I did manage to snap, of my time this festive season:

Did you spot it? No, not the cross eyed cat which is my fluffball, Cola – the ring! Yes, my wonderful other half, Jim, finally got down on one knee and proposed! Of course, the answer was yes, and we’ve already booked a wedding date! It’s very exciting, but it’s been utterly time consuming, with all the celebrations, and congratulations cards and gifts… I’ve been totally overwhelmed with the love and support of everybody!

Now, being engaged makes me seriously happy. But what it also does is make me extremely determined to make my singing a success. There is no hiding that a wedding costs a lot of money – and what better than to earn it through my performances! So, I’m upping my game this year, with lots of new songs, pushing boundaries, public performances and more. We have shows in the pipeline which I would have never even dreamed of until now, and they all include little me, belting out my classical vocals, which simply makes everything a whole heap more exciting!

I’ll be working closely with Full Beam Productions for a majority of the year, and we will be setting up regular videos through the Facebook Live page, so make sure you hop on over there to give the company a follow. But there will also be a new YouTube channel, plus photos and videos being uploaded on to here weekly, so please make sure to follow if you want to catch them!

Alongside the singing, there will be extra blogs about looking after your voice, your body and your mind, plus, wedding talk, fitness chat and generally nonsense, as I plough my way through 2018.

I wish you the best year ahead, it’s going to be amazing for us all, I can feel it!

Exciting things in the pipeline!

Well, it’s been a whirlwind weekend, that’s for sure! With so much happening at the moment, I’m revelling in the fact that today, both myself and my boyfriend, Jim, are off work. We’re catching up on emails from our Full Beam Productions business this morning (lots of booking coming in for the pantomime this December!), and then we are headed to the cinema this afternoon for a mini date! It’s been such a long time since we were both off together, for an entire day, so it’s going to be nice to spend it as a couple, as opposed to just business partners, or ships, passing in the night!

But the weekend itself has been quite something! I’ve driven the length and breadth of England, it would seem, whilst teaching and singing my heart out – and I’m just crossing my fingers now that it will be completely worth being beyond tired, and spending so much money on fuel!

On Friday night, I was packing my suitcase, plus three separate outfits into three separate bags.

The plan was such…:

Drive to Hove.

8.30 – 12.30: Babyballet

Change in car. Drive to Bexleyheath.

2.00 – 3.00: Performance

Drive to Eastbourne. Change clothing. Grab sandwich. Drive to Hastings.

7.00 – 8.00: Performance

Change in car. Drive to Warrington.

2am: Bed.

7am: Wake up. Get ready. Drive to Blackpool.

10.00 – 4.00: Performance/Compete

Change in car. Drive to Eastbourne.

10pm: Bed.

It was the longest weekend of my entire life! Topped up with the fact that we never made it to Bexleyheath, thanks to a diversion which was then diverted, and then blocked (don’t ask…), it was stressful, tiring and hard work.

But above all, it was fascinating, exciting, and FUN.

My performances were with Full Beam Productions – a musicals show, and then a show at a church for their Harvest Supper, which had a fantastic audience, who danced, sang and clapped along to each song. It was also the perfect chance to practice my competition song – which we managed to record:

This is the female version of To Where You Are by Josh Groban. A beautiful song, it holds a lot of meaning for many people, and I adore singing it. The audience reaction can be heard at the end – and you can’t see, but I received a standing ovation. It was fantastic to know that they enjoyed the song as much as I enjoy performing it – and it gave me massive confidence for my competition the next day.

So, why did I travel to Blackpool?

Last year, I auditioned in London, for Britain’s Got Talent – that famous, televised competition, starring Simon Cowell and his judge friends. I was really lucky, and got through to audition in front of them. I received four yeses, but unfortunately, wasn’t taken any further – so my audition wasn’t even shown on screen! I was disappointed, but determined to try again, and so this year, myself and my friend, Kate, drove to Blackpool for the producer auditions. Blackpool is my hometown, and a total lucky charm of mine! Just visiting, I feel instantly at home, and I knew that auditioning here would be a good omen – despite the long drive! And, with luck on our side from the minute we arrived (finding a car park space outside the door, and being part of a fast moving line for registration), I’m pleased to say that now, I wait to hear if I have been successful in making it to the judges again.

The producer auditions are tough. There is a lot of sitting around, waiting to perform – and then when it’s finally your turn, you have literally minutes to hopefully impress a person in a large room enough that they send you into the second holding room, and in front of the producers which I think are higher up, and more capable of making executive decisions. The crew are lovely, and friendly, and try to keep everyone calm, but with so much at stake, who wouldn’t be rattling with nerves.

I sang a cut version of To Where You Are, and answered lots of questions about myself, what I do, what I like etc – and made it through both rounds! It’s now a long wait to find out if I make it through – but it was a lovely day, and I had so much fun! Fingers crossed!

Thank you to Kate for coming with me!

When your voice lets you down…

I’m sat in my bedroom today, wrapped in a fluffy jumper, jogging pants and slippers – and I’m at a loss.

What I’m meant to be doing, is driving to Aldershot, for an audition for Britain Does Variety. My makeup and hair are done, my backing track is on CD, I’ve downloaded an audiobook for the journey… The only thing missing? My voice.

I’ve had a cold all week – one of those horrible ones at the back of your nose, so it sounds like you’re doing your best impression of Britney Spears when you sing any type of song. The type where you blow your nose over and over and over and over and over, and it still doesn’t feel clear. It’s been a battle to perform at all this week – and a big show yesterday, at a new venue, meant I pushed a little too hard.

My routine each morning is to get up, jump in a hot shower, wash my hair, and then dry and style it whilst I have a face mask (Loréal Glow Mask is my favourite at the moment!), and then do my makeup, before making a cup of tea, and finally uttering a single word. It was at this point I realised there was a problem; I sounded like a mouse that had just seen the biggest cat lurking in the corner of the house. Eek! I pushed through my warm up scales, with grave difficulty, before putting on my backing track to my chosen audition piece, and realising it sounded simply average. My top notes aren’t soaring as usual, they’re more screeching like said cat, and my lower notes are nasal and clogged. It’s such a disappointment. My voice has certainly let me down.

So yes, here I am, writing a blog post, instead of getting in my car for the drive. I’ve emailed the people who run the auditions, in the hope that I can rearrange for next week – but I do have bigger things to focus on, which mean protecting my voice is the most important thing right now. Fortunately, I don’t have a performance for a few days, so I can rest up, continue to take Sudafed to desperately clear this cold, and I’ve upped my Vitamin C intake too – four colds and the flu in one year?! Something isn’t right!

In the mean time, I’m listening to a lot of new tracks, and learning lyrics, ready for taking them to the studio to record my first mini EP. More news on that soon, but it’s all very exciting! Until then, take a look at my Grand Final performance from Britain Does Variety 2016:

I’ll be back, singing, soon!

Working in care homes

A massive part of my current performance schedule is singing in care homes. This was an idea which I started in November 2015 – I had just finished a contract working as Entertainment Manager for a hotel in Rhodes, and was desperate for some time spent in England. I missed the roads, the ease of getting places, and the rain (amongst other things!) – and so, I planned on performing in the care industry, for the festive season, before deciding on a contract for the summer.

Two years on, of course, and I am still in England, and still singing to those lovely care residents who I met when I first embarked on my journey! Full Beam Productions, my entertainment company, has gone from strength to strength, and is now one of the largest providers of singers and dancers to care homes in East Sussex. We have a team of people performing for us, which is amazing, and even though I focus a lot on choreography for Full Beam now, plus admin (!!) I also find the time to get out there and sing to everybody as well.

The biggest joy that I find with singing to the residents in homes, is there sense of gratefulness that you are there. They acknowledge that you have taken the time to come to them, set up your equipment, and make them smile for an hour. It’s extremely rewarding.

But it’s also a great place for me to trial new songs! My classical music goes down extremely well in most situations (some homes are simply to small – we would blow the roof off!) and they love listening to my latest find. Recently, it’s been focussed on musical theatre numbers, ready for a duo show I’m doing in September for the company, with fellow singer, Lauren O’Sullivan-Barnes. It’s going to be brilliant, and I’ve been rehearsing hard!

Above is the video of me singing I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables, at a care home in Hastings. It was a brilliant afternoon of song!

I hope to continue performing in the care homes, even whilst I take on my new adventure with Classically Natalie. There are lots of plans in the pipeline at the moment, for recording a CD, and performing in front of some important people – but it’s also a good idea to stay grounded, and I feel like care home performances do exactly that – they bring you back to reality, and make you feel very humble indeed.

Have you performed at a care home? Perhaps you’re a coordinator looking for something a little different for your residents? Make sure to leave a comment below, or get in touch today! I’d love to hear from you!

Getting back to business.

After a long period of time “out of the entertainment loop”, I’m finally getting back to it – and it’s a long process!

I graduated from dance college in 2009. This, as you can probably work out, was nearly eight years ago – and in a dancer’s diary, eight years is nearly an entire career.

I’m one of the lucky few dancers who can firmly hold their hand up and say “yes, I can sing” when asked at an audition. It is, after all, a well known fact, that dancers simply cannot sing. I mean, sure, we can stand in the background, with those ugly, Britney Spears style headsets on, and hold a vague tune on the ooo section of the lead male’s song. But sing? Us? No way.

But that’s the joy – some of us can!

So yes, as I was saying, I am one of the lucky few. I could happily switch between the two professions, taking jobs as and when I pleased, for each individual talent. I’ve worked as a dancer, who has then been seemingly “promoted” to a vocalist. And I’ve been a singer who has ended up also fronting the major dance number. I’m extremely blessed to be able to perform both.

But here in lies the problem: I’ve found myself, these past few months, staring at myself in the mirror, and the looking down at my eight years of work experience, and thinking: have I done enough?

To train as a dancer, or a singer, is a very expensive career choice. I fear to ask my dad just how much he has spent on me, from the age of five when I first decided that this was the path for me (yes, I was that young!). I consider college fees, but then I also realise the amount of money before that, on lessons, exams, shoes, leotards and tights… Not to mention the extra sessions, the show costumes, the travel to and from various locations, including weekly Manchester to London train rides… My mind boggles at the expense.

So as I edge ever closer to my first decade in the business as a professional, I find myself deciding that, quite clearly, other professionals have done so much more than me, and I need to fix this.

I have performer friends who have travelled the world. They have danced on cruise liners larger than the average hotel, strutted their showgirl sass on dance floors across the globe, sang whilst hanging upside down from an aerial hoop, surrounded by 1,000,000 unicorns… OK, I may be exaggerating slightly. But, in my mind, this is how it feels.

I took some time out of my career a few years ago, for personal reasons which suddenly caught up with me. It was a tricky, and lonely time, in which I muddled through as a “dance teacher” in primary schools – which involved more cricket sessions and football afternoons than I care to mention, and not many focusing on the joy of dance – and I feel those years destroyed my career in one fail swoop.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I firmly needed that time. I would not be here today, I truly believe, unless I had hit that pause button, said enough is enough, and quit it all. But I wish I hadn’t. I find myself wishing I could reverse, and go back to college, take that extra year, and try again. Impossible, I know – but so desired…

Which is why, I have made the choice that now it the time to start again.

I have started a rigorous training programme, to turn my body back into that of a dancer. It’s tough, and extremely tiring, but it will be totally worth it, when I look at myself, and see a performer staring back.

I’ve also begun to retrain my now matured voice. I’m not the eighteen year old vocalist which I was – my voice has entered a whole new level, which enables me to progress forward with beautiful, new, exciting repertoire – but I’ve neglected the fundamentals of strengthening, and warming up, and caring.

My new branch of business – performing for weddings – is the first step in determination. I’ve performed at many a wedding, hidden by the Full Beam Productions name, but I’m ready, now, to step out of my comfort zone, and be myself.

If you’re thinking of booking entertainment for your wedding, please, look no further. Because I can promise you, that with the level of determination coursing through my body right now, you will receive nothing more than the very best.

Follow my journey back to business – it’s going to be a good one!