Durban's award-winning Jazz singer-song writer, Natalie Rungan, is a household name in the Jazz and gospel circles. Having studied music at university and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music in 1999, Natalie taught Jazz vocals at the university for seven years where she also completed her Master’s Degree in Jazz, Performance, Composition and Arranging in 2002. Natalie has performed in many theatres and embarked on a national tour recently. Being able to have a career in something she has so much passion for is a dream come true for her although she believes nothing can be achieved without hard work and determination to succeed.
Her love of Jazz was ignited by her American-born Jazz vocal teacher Mitos Andaya. She also credits her musician grandfather and her father, who was a drummer in a Durban dance band in the ‘70s, as her two earliest influences. She also recalls listening to her mum singing church songs in the kitchen during early hours of the morning. This, she believes is what started her journey into the music field.
Q: Can you talk about that one defining moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician?
It would have to be the time I sang at an awards evening back in high school. The song was Whitney Houston’s I will always love you. The whole auditorium came to a dead silence as if there was nothing else that mattered for those four minutes or so. I wanted that to last for a lifetime.
Q: What challenges have you had to face in your chosen career?
Where do I start? Like every career this one comes with so many challenges, especially considering the music that chose me isn’t the kind that one would hear in a club for instance. Yet it’s the music that comes out of me and has built a strong following over the years. I think trying to get people to support local music would be the greatest challenge.
Q: A fan encounter that completely took you by surprise?
It was when I was still lecturing at the university and one of my students told me that I was the reason she had chosen to study music in the first place. I felt both humbled and slightly scared. I knew from my own life that this career isn’t for the feint-hearted. That was a responsibility I hadn’t anticipated.
Q: What does nobody know about you?
If I tell you that, then everyone will know...
Q: Who was your best friend when you were a child? Are you still friends?
That would have to be my good friend Areshna and yes, we are still friends.
Q: What does your mother wish you'd done instead of music?
She would have liked me to be a lawyer.
Q: Have you always enjoyed the art of music?
Q: What do you think about when you are performing?
The context of the lyric; I try to make that come alive.
Q: Any loves, other than music?
Mixed Martial Art training. Not the fighting but the training.
Q: Any celeb crushes?
Ryan Reynalds, Gerard Butler, Brad Pitt
Q: First song ever sung?
Can’t remember. I was four at the time.
Q: Best advice ever given?
If you move confidently in the direction of your goals and dreams, you will eventually collide with your destiny at an unexpected time.
Q: What advice would you give to future musicians?
Don’t give up and stay true to you. The industry changes all the time. If you don’t make it through today, tomorrow’s not far off. Just keep moving!
Judging from her wide and varied fan base on FaceBook, YouTube and MySpace, Rungan is moving to the top and plans to stay there.