Natalie Douglas is an acclaimed jazz singer and the winner of eight MAC Awards who also has experience in cabaret. On Saturday, May 6, 2017, Natalie will take the stage at 8 pm to perform a new musical show titled “Four Women: Nina, Lena, Abbey and Billy'” via Brooklyn's On Stage at the Kingsborough program.

In this show, she will perform songs made famous by jazz legends Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Abbey Lincoln. Songs such as "God Bless That Child," "I Put a Spell on You," "Stormy Weather" and "Throw It Away" are included on the roster. Tickets sell for between $32 and $37. Natalie recently discussed her inclusion in this show and the entertainment industry.

Music

Blasting News (BN): What prompted your interest in jazz and how did you establish yourself in show business?

Natalie Douglas (ND): Fortunately, my parents had a fantastic record collection, comprised of everything from Broadway Cast Albums to Ray Charles to Nina Simone to Judy Garland to Classical Music to McCoy Tyner. They also took me to live performances several times a month and encouraged me to enjoy and/or create every sort of music. I couldn’t point to one particular establishing moment - I’ve been singing since I was four, made my first TV appearance on a local show when I was around five or six and have never stopped singing! I think that’s the key to any creating a solid foundation in any career - one must keep at it!

BN: Did you listen to a lot of jazz when you were growing up? How do you think your childhood influenced your creativity?

ND: Yes, but as I said we listened to every kind of music.

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For a time, I grew up living in the same neighborhood as Nancy Wilson, The Mills Brothers, Tina Turner and right next door to retired bandleader and record label founder, Paul Gayten. There was music everywhere! And as a chatty only child with an extensive vocabulary, I got lots of stories and attention from the adults, plus scads of daydreaming/playtime! I had a wonderful childhood. My parents were much older when they adopted me, so they doted on me and had the time and focus on offering lots of opportunities. My mother was studying for her doctorate when I was small, so I spent a lot of time in the back row of college classes, which fed my curiosity and love of reading and learning.

BN: How did you get involved with the "Four Women" project?

ND: I created this show, “Four Women: Nina, Lena, Abbey & Billie" after having done significant research on my Nina Simone and Lena Horne tribute shows. I’ve always been a fan of all four artists and was intrigued and delighted to discover their connections and relationships.

As I learned more and more about them, I couldn’t wait to share these stories and songs!

BN: Why were these four specific women chosen to be featured and how much research did you have to do about each of them?

ND: These four knew each other, admired one another and moved through the world (and the world of show business) at around the same time. This makes them, to my way of thinking, both shapes and shaped by the Twentieth Century. I wanted to know more about how these particular African-American women, with their generous gifts and varied personalities, lived their lives and their careers. I’m still the same nerd I always was, who loves to have a book in my hand, so I do copious amounts of research on every subject related to one of my shows. I think I like learning better than almost anything else I do, which is part of what I enjoy about performing, teaching, meeting people, traveling - they all enlighten me.

BN: What about these ladies most interested you? Was there anything about their lives that inspired or surprised you?

ND: Of course, I was first attracted to their music - these are singular talents! And then, as I discovered more about their lives, I became intrigued by the different ways in which their careers and lives progressed, especially in light of the racism they faced. Their determination in the face of this and other difficulties inspires me every day! I was lucky enough to see both Lena Horne and Abbey Lincoln many times, including their last NYC performances - nothing could be more inspiring than seeing that fire for music still burning so fiercely within them.

Future

BN: What are your biggest goals for your career and what have been its highlights thus far?

ND: I’ve been fortunate enough to achieve many of my goals so far, but, I’d love to record more, do more symphony work and play the perfect role for me! As for highlights, I’m truly over the moon every time I sing for an audience! It’s undeniably thrilling to sing at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room, Café Carlyle, Birdland Jazz Club & to perform in Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean - my favorite moments, though, are the moments of collaboration.

For instance, working with some of my favorite people, my husband, Billy Joe Young, Jr. and our dear friends, producer, and arranger Brian Nash and music director/arranger Mark Hartman on my most recent recording was an absolute dream! I’m glad the career I’ve chosen involves creating and sharing the experience with other people. It’s the best part.

BN: Which of your forthcoming projects are you most looking forward to

ND: As I mentioned, I’m very much looking forward to my next recordings - we’ve got another album on deck, ready for its finishing touches, that celebrates the ‘70s and ‘80s Southern Californian music of my youth. Next up, I’m headed to a sold-out show in Boca Raton and three performances of my Stevie Songs’ show (the music of Stevie Nicks & Stevie Wonder) in London and a California Tour in July. I can’t wait!