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Natalia M. King

Natalia M. KingMarion Tisserhand

Of Dominican origin, Natalia M. King was born in 1969 in Brooklyn’s Latino-American district.  When she was an adolescent she left the “barrio” to settle with her family in Rochester, New York State.
She went on to study sociology and history at university.  But then, at a time when the majority of her contemporaries chose to join the rat race for material comforts and profit, she rejected all ideas of conventional social success.  In the great tradition of Jack Kerouac’s Beat Generation, she hit the road.  “The call of the wild! When it starts to get at you, you can’t resist for long.”  With her notebook in her pocket, the explorer began to roam the United States from East to West, stopping here and there (the Grand Canyon, Oregon, Seattle, Alaska), wherever her desires and opportunities took her, trying the whole range of menial jobs available before finally settling in Los Angeles.
It was in the Californian Babylon that she began her career as a musician.  Armed with a Fender Stratocaster, Natalia performed with the Mojo Monks, a muscled combo practicing a harsh, very unorthodox blues.  It was also in L.A. that she discovered the music of the 60s and 70s, the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Grateful Dead, not forgetting, of course, the great voices of black music, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Marvin Gay, the list goes on.  “I forged my own style listening to them,” she explains.  In the age of the R&B/Hip Hop hegemony, this young Black American was proud to be different, completely escaping the canons and tastes traditionally associated with her age and the colour of her skin. The majority of those who inspired her to compose and sing came out of the Rock scene or the R&B hall of fame and had their hour of glory before Natalia saw the light of day.  She smiles, “I don’t believe in the genre conflict, or even the generation conflict, and I am not bound to the so-called social-ethnic traditions.  What I do know is, Hendrix’ choruses are universal and immortal!  And the voice of Janis Joplin, too!
After five years, Natalia began to feel hemmed in by the City of Angels, the formulaic and ruthlessly commercial nature of the music scene weighing increasingly on her with every passing day.  In June 1998, questioning her life once again, she took a great leap into the unknown: a flight to Paris.  The French capital had already proved to be fertile ground for her illustrious predecessors, Josephine Baker, James Baldwin and Miles Davis, each of whom vaunted the merits of the city and the “warm welcome” it reserved for Black American artists.  “That’s partly why I chose that destination.  And also because I thought it was where I’d meet musicians from the whole world.”
The beginnings of her adventure in the City of Lights were decidedly humble but Natalia’s lucky star was on the rise.  At the dawn of the new century, after several years singing in metro stations and playing for tips on the terraces of the Latin Quarter and in the cafés of Belleville and Ménilmontant, she found herself on the stage of the Olympia after receiving an impromptu invitation to open for a Diana Krall concert.  Her impressive performance led to a three-album record deal with Universal Jazz.  The albums, Milagro (2001), Fury and Sound (2003) and Flesh Is Speaking (2005), were hailed by critics as out of this world.
Today, after a long period of silence that she considers to have been a time of regeneration, Natalia M. King is throwing her heart and soul into a new musical venture, seeking to explore the origins of the blues in jazz. 
With her spirit open to the world and freed from the demons of her youth, the singer has set the scene for her powerful yet soothing voice to shine forth.  And it shines brightly.  Marking a return to the very roots of her culture, roots that illuminate the superlative definition of contemporary jazz, radiating a mystical élan and dazzling vocal musical purity


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