Natalie Douglas – “Nina – A Tribute to Nina Simone”

Nina Simone

Read about the stunning voice and performance of Natalie Douglas in her cabaret at The Cray Coqs on the singer Nina Simone.

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“..variety and fun, which might not be expected in a tribute to Nina Simone..”

Natalie Douglas, another winner of many awards in the States, debuted her tribute to Nina Simone yesterday evening at The Crazy Coqs. Natalie has been listening to Simone since her childhood and even then was noted for singing her songs in the playground on the swings, including Oscar Brown Jr’s, and Nat Adderley’s ‘Work Song’, where her mother needed to explain what a chain-gang was.

There is a danger with tributes that the artist paying it can become over-reverent, and if the adored subject had a difficult life, of the show becoming too dark and heavy. Natalie avoids this by good balancing of songs including jazz, blues, protest and even gospel, but most of all by the choice of her patter and her own charming and child-like personality, giggling with us when things went wrong and enabling us to feel at ease and comfortable with her.

Not to mention her voice! Despite a heavy cold, it is huge! She also has excellent microphone technique, essential in that small space.

But the thing impressed me most about Natalie was her artistry in particular songs. Her take on ‘House of the Rising Sun’, covered so many times in its long history, is both unique and intriguing. Starting quietly, questioningly, she builds to a rousing crescendo and then ends dark. Most outstanding, however, was the achingly touching ‘You Can Have Him’ –heartfelt and heart-breaking.

In amongst the well-known numbers e.g. ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ and ‘I Loves You Porgy’ and the protest songs of the ‘60’s and 70’s, Natalie skillfully inserted the amusing ‘Forbidden Fruit’, illustrating Nina’s playful side and encouraging audience participation.

Special mention must be made of her superb pianist and Musical Director Mark Hartman, whose powerful commanding playing brought loud appreciation from the audience.

The evening provided variety and fun, which might not be expected in a tribute to Nina Simone, and the Monday night audience loved Natalie Douglas for it. This artist is well worth making the effort to see in this cheerless weather.

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About Fiona Jane Weston

I am Fiona-Jane Weston and as well as being a performer myself (see website), I write reviews of and features on shows, mainly on the London cabaret and theatre scene. I have worked in theatre for many years, but decided to embark on a new direction in cabaret in 2009, when I produced 20th Century Woman: The Compact Cabaret. Not wanting to neglect my love of spoken word, particularly drama and verse, I made the conscious decision to include these elements in the programme, as well as wonderful songs, to tell the story of women's changing status and preoccupations throughout the 20th Century and up to now. I was invited to audition for the renowned Cabaret Conference at Yale, run by the late legendary Erv Raible, and that was thrilled to be one of only 26 accepted that year, where I was taught by the masters of the genre. Amanda McBroom (composer of the Bette Middler hit "The Rose" and the poignant "Errol Flynn"), Laurel Massé, original member of Manhattan Transfer, Sally Mayes, Tony Award nominees Sharon McNight and Tovah Feldshuh, and New York cabaret veteran Julie Wilson were all on the faculty. We were also treated to the musical direction of Alex Rybeck, Hubert Tex Arnold and the now late Paul Trueblood. With the benefit of their insightful teaching and great encouragement, I took my show to The Duplex in New York, where I was delighted with the response. Since then, I have produced Loving London: The Capital Cabaret, using the same format of songs, poetry and drama, in various London venues, including Leicester Square Theatre and The Crazy Coqs. 2014, the centenary of World War 1, saw the launch of Wartime Women: the Khaki Cabaret to a sellout house at St. James Theatre, London, garnering great notices, including from The Times and Musical Theatre Review. I have since been touring the show to Belgium and throughout the UK. I hope these reviews and interviews entertain and educate at the same time, and if please do leave comments in the box. It's great to engage in a conversation about the Arts. Fiona-Jane Weston
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4 Responses to Natalie Douglas – “Nina – A Tribute to Nina Simone”

  1. Just heard Natalie on Radio London on the Gaby Roslyn show – she was marvellous. Others on the programme couldn’t stop talking about it.

  2. jean hammons says:

    i love natalie d.

  3. Yes, I had never heard of her until she came to the UK, but I am most impressed as you can see. She seems a genuinly lovely person too.

  4. Pingback: Natalie Douglas: The Nat Pack: Sammy & Nat & Stevie & Joe | Capital Cabarets And Shows Scene

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