Soprano Natalie Coyle hasn’t let stage fright stand in her way
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After supporting Il Divo ansd Katherine Jenkins, the singer is now a star in her own right - performing for crowds of 85,000
For most singers, performing solo in front of an 85,000-strong audience and being televised across Britain would represent the pinnacle of their career. For Natalie Coyle, it has just been just the beginning.
Now preparing for an upcoming concert at Whitstable Castle alongside Dionne Bromfield, the acclaimed niece of Amy Winehouse, Coyle received a flurry of breaks this year singing the national anthem before Wembley football matches, including the Championship play-off final.
It is hard to believe the classical soprano was afflicted by stage fright as recently as three years ago.
“This year has been so crazy,” says the Hampstead singer. “A year and a half ago, I was on holiday thinking how I’d been trying for years and nothing had happened. I was crying my eyes out – I couldn’t deal with all the rejection.”
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After moving from Scotland to Surrey at the age of nine, Coyle was encouraged to take singing lessons by a neighbour who heard her singing Disney songs in her back garden. “I still don’t know whether that was a good or bad suggestion,” she laughs.
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Since then, Coyle has barely stopped for breath. Graduating from Sheffield University with a degree in music, she trained with Steven Maughan at the Amsterdam Opera House before moving to London in 2010.
Still trying to overcome stage fright, her self-enforced solution was to organise a charity event that meant she couldn’t pull out at the last minute – a decision that paid dividends as the 25-year-old found herself supporting Il Divo at the Royal Albert Hall a year later.
Her biggest chance, however, came when Wembley event organisers saw her on tour with Classical Brit Awards success Blake.
“The match was Southend versus Crewe Alexandra and there was huge controversy. The presenters of Soccer AM, of all people, were booked to sing the national anthem. Southend objected to this and were going to boycott the whole thing, so I was called in as a replacement two weeks before.
It was a brave step for such a young singer and Coyle likens the requirements to that of an athlete, training for weeks for one solitary minute of performance.
Now a three-time Wembley veteran, and with a fourth appearance due at the Rugby League Tetley’s Challenge Cup Final on August 24, she is ready to follow in the footsteps of artists like Katherine Jenkins.
“I was one of her backing singers two years ago for Proms in the Park,” Coyle says. “My ambition is to perform there myself one day – I absolutely love it.
“What people perceive classical music to be is a kind of older, middle generation genre. But so many artists, like DJ Tiësto for example, are creating dance tracks using classical vocals. There’s a contemporary crossover happening – Katherine Jenkins pushed the door open, but I’d like to take it further.”
Acutely aware of every stereotype classical music has among young audiences, Coyle makes clear that there is little substance behind the myths. Despite its depiction as a rich and privileged career path, she has had to graft her way towards the top and unbelievably still fits singing around her job as an office PA.
“When I started taking regular singing lessons, my parents couldn’t afford them so so I worked as a cleaner at an old people’s home after school. People see you in a nice dress and make a lot of assumptions. What they don’t realise is that I do my own hair and make-up and, after the performance, I have to return the dress straight awat.”
The soprano, keen to capitalise on her recent rise, is recording an album at the end of the year, citing Elaine Paige, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald and, quirkily, Lea Michele (of Glee fame) as the artists who influence her the most.
Before that, she is running 10 kilometres for the British Heart Foundation to help fight conditions prominent in her family. While Coyle’s two grandfathers died of heart attacks, her father has suffered from heart murmurs, which, as an ex-professional boxer, tragically stopped him at the last minute from appearing at the Commonwealth Games.
Predictably, ask Coyle about what she does in her spare time and the simple answer is: “I have none.
“I’m supposed to be going to New York in September for a holiday,” she sighs, “but even then, my management said it’d be great to get in a few performances out there.”
Of course, you will never hear her complaining. After all, Coyle is now getting the biggest breaks she’ll ever need.
n Natalie Coyle will be performing at Whitstable Castle on August 30. Tickets are available at www.englisheventscompany.com.