Interview with Natasha Dawson


Give us a paragraph on the Life of a Musician in NYC. 


I sing, and I think that’s being a musician, especially after the years of training I have had in music including 15 years of singing and studying Opera! I know that as a singer life in NYC is tricky. Its hard for us to get hooked up to a good band or trio if we are doing Jazz or Blues and its hard to be on one’s own out there. I see from the musicians I sing with that they are constantly moving to make a buck. There is no saying NO to money or any gig that pays. Sometimes it’s a gig that’s way below their experience or skill.  Still, they do it.  So many strive to only work as musicians because as many feel, they are what they make their money at and dragging pianos, basses, drums and guitars from place to place to get the rent money together is more important than sitting behind a desk.  I do my own shows…always. I create them, market them and sing in them. I have been able to create my own so it’s a bit easier for me.  Some of my musicians are composers as well and they do spend tons of time writing and promoting that work as well as getting it performed.

Is interpretation of a song piece a collaborative effort? If so, how? If not, how does it work? 

Coming at this question as a singer I can say that it can be collaborative. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes one person has the vision of the sound or the meaning behind a song and they lead. Sometimes, yes, it is a collaborative effort. In this group and in my other work I like to collaborate. Not all of what we come up with is good, but I’d prefer to hear ideas. I don’t like to dictate anyone’s creativity. Sometimes, as the lead of a group that causes me grief as some musicians see that as a weakness, as I have been told by some.  Still, I will take the grief of dealing with a big headed, pushy diva or divo over constricting anyone.  Better yet, if you give people freedom to create and they blossom into a foul, bossy person…good bye but if they bring you all their goods and make your work soar…its worth any risk. In this case, again with this group I feel its easy to be free and create on our feet, even in front of the audience.  They are all so talented!

To Mary: I hear this one has an autobiographical slant. What have you learned about yourself in doing this? 

I have learned that I do not like to be exposed but I will do it for my audience and myself as an artist. This is a tricky subject and it exposes me as a young, foolish romantic which I never thought I was and shows my addiction to love and sex. Just like my father. Its hard to admit and its hard to show people but I know we grow by risking and so I will.

I also have learned a lot about my voice and its changes as I age into different styles and how it is used now.

I learned that my younger self…she…was not doing as well as she might have been. Totally unable to focus her life and her heart.  I like looking at her.  I can now heal her even more.

What’s next for you? 

I continue to do Granny’s Blue-Mers Bawdy Blues Booze and Burlesque around Town and for not at Freddy’s Bar in Brooklyn once a month.  This act will hopefully play again at Don’t Tell Mama and then I will see if we can get play at bars and lounges in the NYC area.  I will be starting a couple more acts in the Fall. One about Cannabis, all songs from the 1910-1950 era before the drug laws hit and it was still legal or ignore. Its called “I’m So High” Also, an act called “Flirtations”, same era but instead of all sad songs like this one they will be sweet, romantic things about love! Then I want to do something I call “Wigged Out” about my experiences behind the chair in Broadway theaters.  I will be singing songs from all the shows I worked on.


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