Born and raised in Indiana, vocalist Natalie Walker is an artist whose lilting, melodic voice and lyrical reveries reflect a life journey of determination and self-discovery. With musical influences ranging from Alison Krauss to Portishead, Jewel to Lauryn Hill, Beth Orton to Bjork, the former lead singer of downtempo electronic group Daughter Darling now delivers her own unique, haunting sonic landscape that is at once organic, ethereal, elegant and entrancing. "Creating music is my outlet," says Natalie. "I was born to sing. When I don't, I feel empty. When I do, I feel fulfilled. It's that simple."
"Growing up in a Born Again Christian family was a positive experience, even though I realized in my early twenties that such beliefs are not for me. My parents are great, but they were very strict. School, on the other hand, wasn't a positive experience. I struggled. I knew from the very beginning that I was different. Going to school, college, getting a job didn't click. But I knew I loved to sing. I started singing as soon as I could talk, but kept it a secret. I was really shy. Nobody, not even my parents, knew I could sing. When I was13 years old, I sang at a banquette in front of 300 people. They were floored. Suddenly everyone knew: Natalie Walker can sing."
Natalie formed her first funk-folk band when she was 17. Then she left Indiana for Kentucky. "I went to a Christian college in a little town with 900 people, 500 of which were students at the school. When I was 18, I started to question my beliefs. I needed reinforcement, or some kind of education about what I was raised to believe." Natalie spent a year and a half at college before deciding religion and school were not her calling. "I would go to the little chapel on the campus. It had a beautiful grand piano, so I would sneak into the auditorium and sit at the piano and sing for hours. I would sing the same song over and over again. Finally, I decided I'd seen what I need to see there and it was time to move forward."
Natalie met Travis Fogelman of Daughter Darling through an online ad seeking a singer. She responded, and within a few days, they sent her a sample to record. "I sent it back to Travis and his brother Steve and they said, 'You have to move here now!' But it wasn't that easy for me. I was in school. I was making decent grades for the first time in my life. I decided to tour with a worship band (a "Christ in Youth" group) over the summer instead. I had some things to sort out. In the end, I'm glad I went on that tour because it was confirmation that I needed to push further and do something completely remarkable and different." She finally moved to Philadelphia in February of 2002. Daughter Darling with Natalie as their front woman released Sweet Shadows in July of 2003. The album continued to gain momentum for over two years. "We planned a second release, but the producers of Daughter Darling and myself had grown apart. After careful consideration, I decided that it would be in my best interest to go solo. It was a difficult choice, but following my gut has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I hope Travis and Steve continue to produce music, because they are both brilliant."
"I am thankful that I was raised in a sheltered environment. I wasn't exposed to a lot pop music when I was young. I listened to religious or country music, but I was a blank slate. I remember the first time I heard Portishead. I freaked out. I fell in love with Beth Gibbons' voice. It was strange and different. That was sort of the beginning of the down-tempo, trip-hop vibe for me," Natalie reminisces. "Then I was introduced to great singers like Beth Orton and a group called Over the Rhine. The lead singer, Karin Bergquist, has this incredibly earthy voice." Female artists like Alison Krauss, Ani Difranco, Bjork, Erin McKeown, Jewel, Lauryn Hill, and even Garbage have also guided her.
"I'm really sensitive, but also goofy. That shy, quirky little girl is still lingering inside. I've always been inspired by the nature of people...the cruelty, love, compassion and how easily we conform. I question a lot. But I'm always thinking about what I can do to make other people comfortable." Indeed, comfort is key to this artist. "I don't want to look like someone that I'm not. I don't want to glamorize my image. Yet I don't want to give the impression that I'm this conservative, religious girl either."