Natalie Coyle is currently preparing for one of the biggest performances of her life, but has taken the time out to chat to us in the run-up to that event about her career, her past and just how she feels going into the Rugby League World Cup representing England this weekend.
Has music always been a passion of yours?
Yes, definitely! I am obsessed with music. As a child I would rather listen to music than watch television. My music tastes change depending on my mood; sometimes I listen to Classical then the next day I listen to Country or Electro House. Neither of my parents were particularly musical so they encouraged my sisters and I to learn to play instruments and took us to lots of concerts and musicals. Apparently my grandfather (on my mother’s side) sang like Pavarotti so maybe I got my musicality and passion from him?!
What are some of your earliest music-related memories?
As a child I was desperate to play an instrument so one Christmas when I was 5, I asked Santa for a Violin. I think my mum always dreamt my sisters and I would become a wonderful strings trio with my oldest sister playing the cello and my youngest the viola. Unfortunately she only had years of screeching strings!
It wasn’t until the age of 8 that I started singing properly; having lessons and entering Associated Board Grades. I love Rodgers and Hammerstein and Cole Porter.
When did you realise you had a voice?
When I was 8 years old, I was singing in the garden to Disney’s version of Thumbelina that my neighbour said to my mum she had heard a beautiful voice and that it should be encouraged. I was terrified of performing and mortified that someone had heard me! Nonetheless my neighbour insisted that my mum encourage me to pursue singing.
It’s a difficult question to answer though really as being a singer, you are constantly working on your techniques and striving to perfect your voice. Singers never stop working as the voice never stops changing or developing.
It wasn’t until I started having singing lessons, singing in concerts and entering singing exams and competitions that I thought, “Oh, I think I am quite good at this” and decided to study music at university and train professionally.
What challenges have you faced and do you continue to face in your growing career?
For me personally a challenge I have had to overcome are nerves. I was shy as a child and I remember being in a show when I was 5 and my mum had invited the whole family, but as I was about to run on stage I froze and refused to budge. I was petrified, even after my mum came backstage and tried to persuade me to go on. I wouldn’t move.
There are so many challenges as a singer breaking into the music industry, even more so as a classical artist. It is not an easy challenge but I think what I have learnt is to never take no for an answer and to keep going. I think I will carry on with this motto in my future career ‘work hard and always strive to do even better’.
How was the experience of touring with Blake, and also performing at Wembley for sporting events?
Touring with Blake was an amazing experience. The boys really took me under their wing and mentored me through a very busy tour schedule. It was really exciting performing all over the UK and meeting so many wonderful people. Two lovely ladies who I met at a number of the concerts even set up a fan group for me!
I have performed at Wembley Stadium three times now this year. I felt like I was in a dream and couldn’t actually believe it was happening to me. It’s extremely difficult to explain how it feels. It was absolutely terrifying walking onto the pitch to over 80,000 sports fans, but once you have finished you feel as if you are on top of the world.
Did you enjoy your time at the Classic BRIT Awards this year?
I absolutely loved going to the Classic Brit Awards this year. It was an extremely strange experience as 2 years before I had performed as a backing singer for Il Divo when they won the Artist of the Decade Award. In 2011 I stood at the very back watching the show and then this year I was invited as guest and sat with the CEO of the BPI on the top table right behind the conductor. I had to pinch myself! I felt like Cinderella being sat between Lang Lang and Nicola Benedetti. It was a classical sandwich made in heaven.
You're performing for England at the Rugby League World Cup this weekend - how are your feelings going into this?
Well, this will be my sixth stadium performance this year. It doesn’t get any easier singing in a stadium. However, this is my first performance for England and I am so excited. I was always picked last at school for any sporting activities so I find it rather amusing that I am now singing for England at one of the biggest sporting events in the Rugby calendar this year. It’s an honour to be involved and to sing for my country and I can’t wait to watch the match.
You'll be performing both the England and Fijian National Anthems - was learning the Fijian National Anthem difficult?
Luckily, the Fijian National Anthem is in English. As a singer it is part of my job to learn new music. I have got the words everywhere in my flat, even in the bathroom so I can go through them when I am in the shower.
Are there any other projects you're currently involved in you can share some details about with us?
Yes, I have many projects that I am involved with. As a classical singer, this is one of the busiest times if the year. I am extremely busy before Christmas with 5 concerts in one week.
I am Patron of the charity Breathe AHR which is the NHS’ biggest charity. It is a cause I truly believe in which offers concerts and music to people who are in hospital. They are carrying out extremely interesting research to see the benefits of music to patients suffering in hospitals.
I am also going into the studio to work on new recordings.
Natalie will be performing live on BBC1 from the Rugby League World Cup at 14:20 on Saturday 9th November.