It's no secret that the music industry has fallen on hard times.
However, while other independent artists have been sitting around lamenting the current state of things, Natalie Stovall has been working.
Natalie was born and raised just outside of Nashville, TN. Since her first professional gig singing and playing the fiddle at the age of 10, Natalie has already seen things that most artists could only dream of. She's performed everywhere from Oprah to the Grand Ole Opry. She was the first performer ever to be invited to sing God Bless America for the President at the While House Press Correspondents Dinner. And surprisingly, she has done all of this with no record deal of any kind.
The release of her first record "Late Night Conversations" saw a top 50 radio hit with her song "If I Run To You Now" and the placement of that song in the National Lampoon movie "Bag Boy". In the past couple years Natalie has used that momentum to become one of the hottest booked independent acts in America. Performing and fiddling over 200 dates a year at college campuses, military bases, fairs, festivals, clubs, and bars is all just par for the course with Natalie.
"People ask me a lot why I spend so much time touring.. I know it's not the path that most country artists take, but I know it's the right thing for me. The only way I really know I'm heading in the right direction with my music is to get out there and see how people react to it... See if I can really grab them. I didn't start writing and playing because I wanted to be on CMT... I mean, don't get me wrong, I want to be on CMT... But that's not why I'm here. I write and perform because I love it... It's always been part of me. I do it cause I have no other choice."
Natalie is dedicated to the tradition of the road-warrior in a way most modern artists don't understand. Following in the footsteps of her musical heros, taking her music from town to town and building an audience from the ground up. Not even an accident with an eighteen-wheeler that sent Natalie and the band spinning into a ditch in the Missouri snow could slow her down. "That was a bad day... It's hard to describe the feeling of sitting there in a ditch, trying to figure out what just happened, and not knowing if my band was ok. I mean, on one hand, I can't imagine an accident with an semi truck going much better... we all survived. But on the other hand, it forced me to take a long hard look at what I was doing. My van was crushed, my trailer was busted... I really had to pick myself up off the mat after that. It was definitely a hard time, but it's supposed to be hard. If it were easy, it wouldn't mean as much. And after it all settled down, it left me knowing more than ever that this is what I was meant to do."
Whatever Natalie is doing seems to be working. Recently she swept awards at the APCA national conference and with Campus Activities Magazine winning "Best Band", "Best Entertainer", "Best Female Performer", and "Best Music".
"It's been an amazing year so far. If feels so good to be recognized for what you do... It makes you feel like you're doing something right. Like you're on the right track, you know?"
As Natalie's reputation spreads great opportunities keep rolling in. Natalie has already been selected to open for acts like Gretchen Wilson, Little Big Town, Gloriana, Justin Moore, Josh Gracin, Trent Tomlinson, Safetysuit, The Doobie Brothers, and that's just the beginning.
This Spring will bring the release of her second record, "Standing My Ground" an EP featuring five brand new songs written by Natalie along with her version of the Charlie Daniel's classic, "Devil Went Down To Georgia"
"It's amazing, my version of "Devil" has been such a big part of my show ever since I started my first band... I mean, for the past five years people have been coming up to me and asking if I would record my version. And although part of me felt crazy for taking on the responsibility of recording such a legendary fiddle song, I just knew it was the right thing to do. I really wanted to give something special to everyone that's stuck with me and been a part of this adventure so far."
Although the launch of her new EP will be a big moment, the cornerstone of Natalie's success has always been her live show. "I love records and I grew up obsessed with the radio, but to me a stage and an audience are sacred things. Getting up in front of a group of people, no matter how big or small, whether they know me or not... whether they even like country music... And giving everything I've got to win them over... That's a holy thing to me. That's why I do what I do."
When Natalie is on stage she is a different person. The moment she picks up one of her alternating black and white fiddles, the spell is complete and you finally get to see her in the space where she truly lives - where she's meant to be; A dancing Siren with her chin tucked, and her bow fiercely flailing. She spins and sways through a dizzying, hour-long crescendo until the final band hit.
After her show when the smoke settles, the lights go down, and the audience finally gets to catch their collective breath, Natalie performs the most unexpected part of the show. She transforms back into the smiling, unassuming, five-foot belle that you almost forgot existed just before the first downbeat.