It's Wednesday, March 17, and Curb Records artist Natalie Grant
is spending the day in meeteings, preparing for her next album which she will be recording in May. Her schedule is packed
since she leaves the following day to sing at a church conference. But, despite the hectic running around, Natalie's magnetic
personality and charm have a way of putting one right at ease.
Natalie heads to the entrance of
Noshville, a popular Nashville eatery. She's the epitome of "casual glam" in jeans, an aqua t-shirt and blue Pumas, all complimented
by a funky blue scarf. She is also sporting new dark streaks in her normally all-blonde hair.
Inside, we're greeted by a giant
penguin and handed raffle tickets. The staff is decked out in green, and paper shamrocks hang from the ceiling. A local radio
station is there, and the fliers advertise the daily special: green eggs and ham. "Is it St. Patrick's Day, really? I had
no idea, and I'm Irish!" she exclaims.
Natalie, Rachel (assistant to Natalie's
manager) and Hope (backup singer and road manager) go over the "rider"-a document that contains touring specifications and
catering preferences- for upcoming tour dates. Turns out, Natalie is nuts for Diet Vanilla Pepsi, Splenda, and almost anything
Our food arrives, Natalie's scrambled
eggs do not contain cheddar cheese as requested, and-surprise!- they are green. She sends them back for cheese, silently hoping
they will return normal-colored. No such luck. She closes her eyes and digs in. Meanwhile, I love the griddle cakes she recommended.
Natalie gives up on her eggs,
and the meeting is adjourned. On the way to the car, she admires a baby blue classic Corvette. Natalie confesses she and her
husband are "reversed" since she is really into cars, and he isn't.
Curb Records with her manager, Mitchell Solarek. Mitchell and Natalie have a planing meeting with Jeff Tuerff from Curb's
marketing team to discuss her upcoming photo shoot for the new album.
Finally finding an empty
conference room, the group listens to a demo of "Awaken," which will likely be the first single. Natalie says she has rewritten
how the past album artwork has been very natural, and he would like to move toward "bold." After mulling over wardrobe, hair,
and makeup options, Mitchell reminds Natalie that this shoot will be in a studio, and she will be completely responsible for
the "life" of the shots. "I've got moves you've never even seen," she responds. She admits, "That's from My Best Friend's
Time for another meeting-this
one with Bryan Stewart from Curb's A&R department to go over the new songs. As we listen to various tracks, Natalie closes
her eyes and nods to the beat. Artists like Elton John, Coldplay, Jason Mraz, Nelly Furtado, Norah Jones, and Liz Phair come
up in conversation to describe what the songs should or could sound like.
Back on the home front (Mitchell's
office), lunch options are discussed and settled on a place known for its grilled salmon- a good high-protein dish to make
up for the green mess at breakfast.
As the rest of the lunch group
arrives, Mitchell and Natalie are already entrenched in serious business discussion. At the table they pour over itineraries
and spreadsheets. The server arrives to take our drink order, and Natalie requests a Diet Coke with a splash of Coke on top.
She says it's really good that way.
Conversation bounces from movies to possible
missions trip destinations, Natalie's fear of flying (it's the turbulence she hates.) to ann affinity for gossip magazines.
Natalie states with assurance that "Brad and Hen" are headed for "Pittsville" and that South Africa would be an interesting
place to visit.
After a satisfying experience with the
salmon, we return to the office. While checking her e-mail on Rachel's computer, Natalie notices a picture on the desk of
someone who looks very similar to her husband Bernie. It turns out to be Nate Sallie (another Curb artist.)
Natalie ducks into the bathroom, and I
hear her crystal-clear vocals as the door shuts behind her. It's probably safe to assume she also sings in the shower.
Natalie has a conference call with Linda,
the founder of Shared Hope, a charity Natalie wants to help promote. Shared Hope's mission is to rescue victims of human trafficking,
an issue Natalie became aware of through an episode of "Law & Order." She found Shared Hope online and called them. It
so happens that the woman who answered the phone had just been to one of Natalie's concerts. "Sometimes it's so God it's eerie,"
Natalie comments as she explains how all the pieces are fitting together.
Natalie calls her huband to "check in."
She mentions the green eggs.
At his home studio, Natalie and producer
Shaun Shankel review the seven tracks already selected for the album. She describes what else she is looking for: something
"up-tempo," "aggressive," but not "trite." For the sake of comparison, Shankel plays her a few of his songs, one of which
was featuured on "8 Simple Rules." He also produced the new single "Eighth World Wonder" from "American Idol" contestant Kimberly
Locke and worked on R.J. Helton's album, which prompts Natalie to recall her surprise at the length of R.J.'s autograph line
at a concert they both played. "He didn't even win; he came in, like, fifth!" she laughs, in awe of the shows influence.
Talk turns to orchestration options for
the record; Natalie and Shaun agree the Prague, Czech Republic is the place to record quality strings on a tight budget. Natalie
cheers, "We're going to Prague!"
It's time to go. Natalie insists on a
quick photo of us for her Web site and then hugs me goodbye. While it's possible that any job other than your own seems more
intriguing, I'm convinced that being a singer is almost as glamorous as it appears.