Making it in music

A songwriter from Leytonstone is seeing her hard work pay off

Natasha Norman

Natasha Norman’s song was chosen by Girls I Rate to be played to industry professionals

When Beyonce’s writer Carla Marie chose my music to be played for major record labels, I thought: “This is quite a leap from GCSE music.”

Before I knew what a singer was, I was just a kid who wanted people to hear my voice. My mum describes me as the soft-spoken child, so my singing voice was a surprise.

When I was four years’ old, my parents took my brother and I to a kids’ Christmas event organised by the hotel Clube Praia D’oura.

My mum rehearsed Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with me in the corner of the small disco next to all the other mums, but you could have heard a pin drop when it was my turn, because unexpectedly I opened my mouth and sweetly sung Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air. I didn’t know what a competition was, but I won. That was the beginning.

After lots of primary school musicals and talent showcases, I decided to audition for a girl group. At 14 I became the youngest member of the group created by the council’s Innovation 2020 Music Project.

Waltham Forest’s programmes put me on the path to songwriting, by providing writing and studio recording workshops. This gave me the confidence to take a GCSE in music.

My secondary school, Connaught School for Girls, had a great music programme. I was a part of two choirs – gospel and choral – and took a few jazz-singing and violin lessons alongside music class. I could play a bit of piano and violin, but was not entered for formal music exams because I’d memorise the melody instead of learning to read the notes. This led my music teacher to predict a B-grade. But I was determined, and I got an A.

I ended up studying a commercial music business degree where everyone could sing, so I decided I wanted to be the person behind the magic; a songwriter. By sheer luck of the universe, I received a call asking me to collaborate on a soca (‘soul of calypso’) demo for an artist based in Japan, as I participated in Notting Hill Carnival and knew the carnival genre well.

The song Touch Down was entered into the 2016 International Soca competition and made it to the semi-finals. Then in 2017 I entered the new Salute Music Makers competition and my song was selected in the top 100 out of 2,000 entries.

This year, after deciding to produce my own music, I submitted a track entitled Soca Step Riddim to the not-for-profit organisation Girls I Rate for a listening session organised by songwriter Carla Marie, who wrote Beyonce’s song Freedom.

Out of 200 girls my song was one of a few selected to be played to several industry movers, including representatives from Sony and Ministry of Sound. I was commended on my progress in six months and advised by Carla to keep going, as my genre could be the next big thing!


Follow Natasha:

Instagram @natashatlnorman

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