Natalie Gelman
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Natalie Gelman

Ojai, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2002

Ojai, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2002
Solo Folk Alternative




"Big voice, Big heart"

Big voice, Big heart
Natalie Gelman brought soul and spirit to CWU
By Bruce Coe

Ellensburg - You have to know a little bit about busking to understand Natalie Gelman.

Busking, the time-honored art of street performance spans a range of talents - juggling, street acting, magic and singing. It’s the most immediate relationship a performer will ever have with their audience.

And that’s exactly what Gelman does. She brings the magic of busking to her singing and songwriting.

Gelman, who hails from New York City, is touring in support of her newest EP “Streetlamp Musician”. She paused to chat before her performance at Central Washington University in early April.

I ask her what the magic of busking is, She replies, “Well, I guess it takes courage to just go out there and do it. There are so many people in New York City, there’s something special about winning people over. That has really helped me in my live shows.”

That’s Gelman. Immediate, winning and personal.

“Streetlamp Musician” is a compilation of 5 songs, expertly performed. I’m guessing her backup band is comprised NY studio guys. They manage to lay back enough to sound like topflight Nashbville session players. Gelman’s voice is big. Think Wynona and a little Tine Turner when it has to be. That vocal somewhere-in-between is what makes her voice so accessible. She rises to a torch song and descends into a throaty whisper with ease. She’s not trying to sound like anyone else, she just sounds like Natalie Gelman. That’s good.

As a songwriter Gelman is self-possessed and articulate. No fluff. Get to the point. Catchy rhymes and pithy thoughts. None of those wannabe catchphrases that seem to populate so much mainstream songwriting.

She says, “’Laugh So Hard You Cry’ has one of my proudest lines:”
Life goes on with or without
All the things you care about.
Maybe there’s really nothing to figure out.

Or from “Streetlamp Musician”:
I don’t want to die with a melody inside my head
That the world needs to hear.
Notes For Aspiring Performers
We talked about the huge amount of local talent in our area. I asked how an aspiring singer songwriter might approach their emerging craft.

She smiles, “For me it’s really important to stay open to opportunities. Eventually you can say no and be picky, but for now see shows, write with people, perform, even if they’re not good experiences learn from them. Network together, get great idea from other artists, it’s about an artistic community, online or offline.

“Online there are some good resources for songwirter. NSAI is one, ( another is Just Plain Folks. ( You never know where a road might lead. You don’t know how good you are.”

The Nudge
4/5 stars, buy it. Sily smooth vocals, propulsive rhythm, great lyrics, very well executed and imagines. Worth yo’ busy while. Oh, and not a single guitar solo. Must be the busker in her.

For more info about Natalie, visit: - NKC Tribune

"All Eyes On Singer Songwriter, Natalie Gelman"

"A refreshing talent with such an amazing voice"
(Read more at the link below.) - Limerence Magazine

"Soundcheck Gig Alert: Natalie Gelman"

Natalie Gelman
"Never Had You"
Playing Monday at The Bitter End (147 Bleecker St., Greenwich Village, Manhattan, NY)
Get: Tickets ($10) | Directions

If singer-songwriter Natalie Gelman seems familiar, it's because the West Villager’s cut her teeth busking on the subway for almost a decade and even earned a spot in the coveted MTA "Music Under New York" series this year.

But not all the gigs for this native New Yorker require a Metrocard for entry. The chanteuse — whose smoky voice and guitar-driven pop-rock have earned her comparisons to Jewel and Sheryl Crow — has also performed at Webster Hall and Lincoln Center, among other venues.

Gelman plays The Bitter End on Monday night in the NYSongCircle showcase. If you can’t make Monday night’s show, Gelman returns to play the same club on Dec. 7. Download the folksy love song “Never Had You” from her self-titled debut album above or watch the video for the song below. - WNYC

"Natalie Gelman, MUNY Performer"

Between the endless Peruvian flute bands and that one lady with the melodica who keeps popping up on our N train, it can be pretty hard to find enjoyable, original music in the city's subway. But if you look hard enough, you'll find an act like Natalie Gelman. The native West Villager has been performing underground for almost nine years now, a gig that's helped her find fans, a record deal and nationwide tours. Ironically, after years of dodging (or being ignored by) the cops, she's landed a spot with Music Under New York, something she says was even harder than touring. During a break from recording her new album in LA she talked to us about breaking into the subways, finally getting noticed by MUNY and her guide to the best downtown eats.
So what got you writing songs in the first place? I wrote my first song in 6th grade when I was 11 years old and had a crush on a boy in my class. It was a melodramatic love song and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to sing it to my teacher who might have been a nun at the Catholic school I was attending. I remember finishing the song and she gave me this look of distain that said, "What in the lords name are you thinking child?"
I went back to my seat completely ashamed and didn’t write for another 6 years. I enrolled myself in guitar lessons at Brooklyn Conservatory and came home from my first lesson with two or three chords the first day. I immediately started writing melodies and lyrics over them.
It wasn’t until college a few months later that I started writing full songs. I was mildly obsessed with Jewels Pieces of You album and I would listen to that while doing homework and then go into the stairwell of my dorm, which had this beautiful echo and just sit strumming my guitar for hours. When the songs would come they came really fast and almost all intact. I was really confused about going so far away for school, my family, guys… so that’s what all the songs were about.

When you had the songs (or covers, or just a guitar...whatever) when did you decide to take your act to the subway? Busking in the subway was a bit of an accident at first. It was actually more of a conscious decision to start performing at open mics and change the lyrics to my songs so all the parts about how old I was were 21 instead of 17. I had my fake ID from McDougal street that everyone my age got and would go to C-Note in the East Village all the time. I think they realized I was under 21 when I had my first show and only my parents, older sisters and friends parents were in the audience.
So, I had set up a show at a café in the village and my friend from out of town was helping me promote my shows and do some PR one summer. She wanted to go out to Times Square after the show so we headed uptown and stopped for some ice cream as soon as we got up there. They asked me to sing so I played them a song and they gave us our ice cream for free! We were pretty excited and started to walk around Times Square and it wasn’t too long afterwards that someone asked me to sing again and said that if I would they would give us a picture of ourselves on a magazine cover. We thought that sounded like a good deal so I took out my guitar and sing a song. A little crowd gathered as I did and when the song was over the people listening started to walk over to me and try to hand me money. I was completely shocked but my friend was smart and pulled out my email list and told me to keep singing.
The guys from the kiosk that had asked me to perform actually owned a bunch of the kiosks around Times Square and asked to hire me to perform for them. So I began busking next to them for two hours a day. This went on for about 2 weeks but I probably only got to perform about half of the set time because the cops kept pushing me along when crowds would gather.
We decided with the owners of the kiosks that is wasn’t working out and my friend was still in town and staying with me so she and I went down to the subway to head home and decided to just try out playing on the subway and see how it was. Once again I was pretty freaked out to start but with her support I set up my little busking space on the uptown side of the 42nd street 1, 2, 3 and 9 (back when we still had the 9) trains. I’ve been doing it ever since and have been inspired to play all over the country as a street performer on my “off” days of tours.
How are you received down there? Do people actually pay attention, or does everyone just walk by and throw in change if they happen to have it jingling in their pocket? It's a mix and that's part of what's exciting about it. You never know if you're going to get that attention and you really have to be putting on a great show and giving 150% if not more. It takes complete and passionate commitment to the songs to get respect and attention from people. I think there’s something to be said as well for the fact that when someone walks down to the - Gothamist

"VOA Border Crossings Interview"

VOA's live worldwide international music request show with host Larry London. - Voice of America: Border Crossings

"Natalie Gelman: Streetlight Musician"

Natalie Gelman: Streetlight Musician
Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

I think I listened to about twenty seconds of Natalie Gelman before I sent the confirmation that I would write up a review. Sometimes, the connection is that immediate, and I’m always grateful when it is. It means I’ll enjoy writing almost as much as I enjoyed listening.

“Most the While,” the first single of her EP, showcases her voice and her songwriting talent. The song is about wanting to be with someone who generally only brings pain. It’s about feeling complete, but only at your own expense. While the lyrics sometimes veer dangerously into cliche territory, the theme of the song is relatable and her longing seeps into the soul of the listener. It works so well because of her talent and because, really, who hasn’t been there? ”Long Stemmed Roses” questions happiness that is supposed to come with love. At first glance, it is the most romantic song of the set, but repeated listens brings questions and new revelations. ”The Lion” is Natalie’s most feisty song, one that made me smile and want to sing along.

While I loved all of these tracks with equal abandonment, it is the title track that hit home. It may be autobiographical-about Natalie’s pursuit to chase her musical dreams, but the song can be about anyone’s hopes, and fears, as Natalie mentions in the bridge, and the longing for them to be recognized. Similarly, the song “Laugh So Hard You Cry,” is about facing all the disappointments yet not wanting to change anything. ”I won’t give up/It’s do or die/Laugh so hard you cry” has that well, at least I tried mentality to it, and at the end of the day, the recognition that the pursuit is a life well lived, no matter what the results. As for the song, “One More Thing,” it is the song that I heard first and made me fall in love, and it is that song that randomly jumps into my brain and repeats on an endless loop. I am always pleasantly surprised when this ear worm pays a visit.

In the Bridget Fonda movie Point of No Return (this isn’t just a recommendation to watch that movie, btw, just a reference), the main character remembers her mother as someone who listened to Nina Simone endlessly, and so when that m.c. is “in a mood,” she, too, listens to Nina. Ever since I saw the movie, I’ve wondered what musician would make my friends think of me. I’m afraid it would be the obvious, the pop rock that makes me smile and gives me energy. But really, I would want them to know that in my quieter moments, when I’m wanting to be inspired, it’s music like this that speaks to my soul and gives my daydreams flight.

Please visit for more information, and be sure to download the album. I’m about to go do that myself, and since I could never afford all the music that comes across my desk, there is no better endorsement that I could give. - Relate Magazine

"Musicians Performing at Sundance Film Festival"

SALT LAKE CITY — The Sundance Film Festival, which began Thursday, is attracting a lot of Hollywood stars and some of the best emerging musicians.

The music scene has become a big part of the festival where lots of new talent is discovered.

Natalie Gelman is performing this week and joined Jenn Hardman in studio. Play the video to see that. - KSL5

"Live Show Review"

Material: Natalie Gelman is the poster-girl for the solo, storytelling singer-songwriter. Writing about her days playing on subway platforms in New York City and singing about her perception of love and love lost, she is the image conjured by little girls who pick up a guitar and a crush and think they might do something about all of it. Joni Mitchell is clearly an influence in much of the material, as is evident in “Laugh So Hard You Cry,” but Gelman pushes a few decibels louder than Mitchell and can be a bit darker as well. She wanders into comparisons to Tori Amos with her encore song, “Will You Sell Your Soul to the Devil?” Natalie Gelman compares to many successful female singer-songwriters due to the combination of sweet and strong in her sound. Success is in getting the mixture just right.
Musicianship: The solo performer has a precarious opportunity to display her musical ability without interference from others, while at the same time completely exposing every nervous tick or vulnerable moment. The key is to be sure at least one of the main instruments is remarkable, which will make up for any shortcomings in the other. In the case of Natalie Gelman, her voice is that remarkable instrument. The clarity,precision of pitch and her immense range prove impressive, but the factor that makes her instrument memorable is the great dynamic contrast. With the ability to handle both sweet and strong in the most dramatic way, Gelman’s voice allows for a great deal of experimentation and feeling in her expression. With this dynamic contrast and precision of pitch, she demonstrates great technical ability as well as personal emotion.
Performance: Gelman appeared quite familiar with the role of solo performer, and if there were any doubts, she did her duty in explaining a good deal of her history while on stage. Folks enjoyed seeing a bit of personality between songs, but Gelman stretched the grace period perhaps a bit too far, losing momentum in the wandering banter. If anything, this illustrated the power of the performance of the music, which was at times entrancing, and altogether entertaining.
Summary: The combination of both sweet and strong enables Natalie Gelman to captivate and entertain her audience. As she continues to experiment with just the right balance and blend of those elements, this performer will likely always have a captive audience for her inviting and engaging style of storytelling. –Tim Reid, Jr. - Music Connection

"Interview: Natalie Gelman"

An opera-singing, roller-blading, blonde bombshell of a singer-songwriter who’s not afraid to busk her folk-pop on the subways of NYC.

Even if New York is where you grew up, you’d need some guts to busk around the city’s subways of an evening, and you’d have to be a confident vocalist to perform at Carnegie Hall. But for Natalie Gelman, this was just the start of a story that has taken the young songstress from performing to tourists in Time Square, to studying opera in Austria and even embarking on a charity rollerblading tour of gigs along the US East Coast.

Since picking up a guitar at the age of 16, Natalie’s attractive blend of folk, pop and rock had charmed strangers on the subway and it would have the same effect on Songwriting when the press release landed in our inbox. But we had a few questions… What happened to opera? Why choose busking on the cold streets over the warmth of an acoustic venue? And what made her decide to spend 48 days rollerblading?

We catch up with Natalie taking a well-earned rest in her new home outside Los Angeles, after touring across America in support of her new EP. It’s a good opportunity to reflect on her story so far and where it all started… (Full Interview in Link) - Songwriting Magazine

"Who's Next - Natalie Gelman"

Natalie Gelman grew up training with professionals from the Juilliard School and the New York City Opera. At 16, she borrowed a friend’s guitar and began writing songs. Too young to play the clubs, Gelman hit the city’s subways, busking on platforms for tips. She eventually became a popular fixture alongside the train tracks. In fact, Gelman is one of the rare musicians permitted to play underground by the New York Department of Transportation. Since graduating from the University of Miami with a vocal performance degree, Gelman has entertained audiences at more standard concert venues like House of Blues and Webster Hall. Her new album, Streetlamp Musician—produced by Charlie Midnight (James Brown) and Mark Needham (the Killers)—delves into deep subject matter. “There are a lot of heavy topics covered in my songs,” she says, “but always a bit of hope and vulnerability, childlike dreaming for some ideal.” - M Music and Musicians Mag

"Shot at Transit Glory - Buskers Audition for Subway Idol"

"Simply Terrific"
"Description: Sheryl Crow plus Carole King" - The New York Post

"Seeking Fame Underground"

"Seeking a spot in musician's heaven... Natalie Gelman, a songwriter in full cry" - The New York Times

"Rollerblading Lady Luck"

This is the English translation. Read the article in Russian here:

She gave up the violin and a piano, refused a career as an opera singer, started playing the guitar, rollerblading and arrived on rollerblades from Miami to New York. Get acquainted with Natalie Gelman – the young performer of her own songs.

Natalie's father is a Russian violinist, and her mother is a German artist with two daughters from a previous marriage. "My dad taught my sisters to play the violin. Once my mother invited him to go with her to a concert... The history of love in which the woman takes the first step," tells the fun-loving girl with slanting and large features, long thin fingers and a juicy voice. I would never think, that this intelligent young lady with glasses is capable of bringing to life her crazy ideas.

At home they speak in English, therefore Natalie can only say limited greetings in Russian: farewells and declarations of love. "When my dad names his sister on the phone 'Sofochka,' it sounds mysterious and romantic to me. I would like to speak in Russian," admits Natalie.

In her childhood, Gregory, Natalie's father, taught her his native language a little. He taught her more of the language of music. In high-school she had a Russian boyfriend, dialogue with whom slightly enlarged her Russian vocabulary. And his mother taught Natalie how to cook compote. "How many times I tried to prepare it and it never was as good," Natalie makes a helpless gesture and continues a theme of astronomic traditions. "My dad always has salty fish in the refrigerator, it's part of the Russian menu. In my opinion it has an awful smell. As Germans love meat, it lays beside it on a shelf. To me as a vegetarian, both of them are my opposite."

Natalie really enjoys the Russian tradition of large parties. With some jealousy, Natalie tells me of one of her Russian-speaking friends birthday parties at a Brighton beach restaurant: in a circle of numerous relatives and friends, with songs, dancing, performances by actors and tables bursting with abundance.

"Even though we're told that in New York almost everyone can find a place where the culture of his nation is represented, I think that communities have lost their traditions. In Chinatown stalls sell fake goods as if this is everything that is famous China; in Little Italy with its continuous restaurants, it gives the impression that all Italians do is eat," discussing about assimilation, Natalie, who was born and raised in Greenwich Village. She admires the families that carefully store their cultural traditions. In her New York family this does not apply. However Natalie can precisely tell, that considering her character from her father and mother she considers love to music and diligence to be from her Russian heritage.

Studying the violin for five years, and piano for twice as long, was torture for the girl. She liked neither, but she loved music and with pleasure sang at school. She managed to elicit vocal lessons from her parents. Over time her mother, feeling bad for the child, allowed Natalie to drop her violin lessons. At Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts she studied singing, composition and dance. Her vocal instructors were teachers from Juilliard and NYC Opera.

"As I grew up in an environment of classical music, my knowledge of all known composers was that they were men: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, and they are all deceased, jokes Natalie… except for Madonna and Lisa Minelli, I did not listen to contemporary music till I was 15. As long as I can I remember, I always hummed something of my own. During my last year in high-school I picked up a guitar for the first time and started to write songs. Immediately I understood, this felt right," tells Natalie.

Her father diligently hid disappointment in his daughter's choice to play guitar. It was expected that having been born with long fingers Natalie was predetermined to be a talented violinist. "They will be good to play the guitar also," Natalie told her father. Today he is the first to judge her writing. He does not avoid criticizing her. "The criticism is always helpful because he has a classical view point on music," thinks Natalie.

Natalie's Russian relatives are very friendly and supportive of all her endeavors. "My daughter deserves to win the contest. I objectively judged and listen for yourself to the other participants," Gregory in edition with the request called to write about Natalie's participation in the musical competition at Alien to modern technologies, he tried to do the utmost for her victory and hoped, that the talent of the young singer will be appreciated.

The temptation to participate in the competition was big: the winner was promised a monetary prize of 10 thousand dollars. Because of this, Natalie who was up to her ears in debt from her education after her gr - Novoe Russkoe Slovo - Russia

"Natalie in Billboard"

Natalie was featured in Billboard magazine. Next to a photo of her performing it listed: Natalie Gelman - singer songwriter - New York, NY.

See the feature here: - Billboard Magazine


Partial Translation:
Do you also want play in the subways of New York? Well, then first you must attend an audition and persuade 30 judges.

At Penn Station, stop any further south's Natalie Gelman and plays guitar and sings. She sells CDs at ten dollars a piece. Maybe the right person will go by, and find her one day? In the meantime, she's merely up to play for New York's 4.5 million travelers; the world's best - or at least most diverse - the public. Once you're in through the audition, you have the permission for life.

Full Article here:
- Dagbladet Newspaper - Norway

"Rising Indie Star"

Natalie Gelman sings with a voice filled with strength and enthusiasm. It’s hard to believe this is her freshman project. There’s a promising future for this rising indie star. - Singer & Musician Magazine

"Upstream Radio"

Natalie Gelman comes from the core of the Big Apple. You cannot help to fall in love with her grace. A musical charm that will sweep your spirit away into a blissful place not too far from your heart's home. This modern musical philosopher finds ways to touch your soul in places that you did not know existed. Her singles "Never Had You" and "Always Was" will help you remember if you just happen to ever forget. - USA4Real

"CT Commercial Radio"

There aren’t many CD’s I am waiting to receive!
-Neil Hedley
Guy in the Sky Morning Show - i95 FM

"Accident Hash Podcast"

Great, great musician! - CC Chapman

"This album so happens to be a Jewel"

Her passionate songs and voice have brought comparisons to Sheryl Crow, Joni Mitchell and Jewel. And this album so happens to be a Jewel. I pride myself that I like all types of music. It doesn't have to rock out. Kicking off with 'Rest Of The Way', this track showcases the sort of path this record takes. Following with 'Sweet July', and this catchy little offering so happens to be one of my faves on this record. Other little favourites are 'Leave', 'Half Dead', 'Never Had You' and the rockier 'Forgive Me'. Get out there, light up your camp fires and get your accoustic guitars out. Listening to this in-fact brought back a memory of a certain lass I know playing her accoustic guitar at the top of Glastonbury Tor last Summer. This cd is cool stuff with cool lyrics by a cool lass who has been featured on the front page of the NY Times and in Billboard Magazine. 8/10 - Ravenheart Music


Still working on that hot first release.



This New York City native has no fear taking her performance from underground on a NYC subway platform to some of the worlds premier stages and arenas. Natalie has performed at Lincoln Center, Ballys Casino in Las Vegas, Carnegie Hall, Nassau Coliseum and Shea Stadium among many other venues.

Featured on the front page of the New York Times, Natalies soulful voice carries over multiple trains in the underground subway and her intimate songs stop even the most hurried NYC commuters in their tracks. She has been praised by songwriting legends such as Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary who stopped to listen to her perform on the subway and introduce himself.

Admiring music from a young age, Natalies passion and persistence led to admission into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, the acclaimed FAME school. There, she received classical voice training from coaches of the Juilliard School and the NYC Opera. After securing her second solo at Carnegie Hall, Natalie began strumming her guitar and writing lyrics, pursuing what would soon become her vitality.

Upon releasing her debut album, Natalie kicked off a rollerblading tour from Miami, FL to NYC over 1500 miles raising money for charity in concerts along the way. She bladed anywhere from 20-80 miles a day depending on the terrain and schedule and played shows at night selling the CD and donating the profits to Children International.

Her passionate voice and music is a means to articulate her response to current affairs as well as reveal parts of her inner self with the world. Inspired by music greats like Carole King and Sheryl Crow Natalie often finds herself being compared to them. When you see a live show you will realize you're in the presence of a legend in the making. Whether she is singing to 7 or 17,000 she is sure to amaze you!

Natalie has opened for and performed with: Dave Mason of Traffic, Richard Cheese and Lounge against the Machine, Ellis Paul, Jonathan Coulton, Kal David, JD Souther, Jill Sobule, Lucy Kaplansky and Javier Colon.

Sundance Film Festival - UT
Comic Con - CA
Virgin Mobile Free Fest - MD
Women's Redrock Music Festival - UT
Sailfest - CT
Northwoods Music Festival - WI
Plymouth Folk and Blues Festival - VT
South Norwalk Arts Festival - CT
Cape May Singer Songwriter - NJ
Dewey Beach Music Festival - DE
Make Music New York - NYC
South Park Music Tour - CO
The Watermelon Festival - CA

The NAMM Show - CA
TEDxOjai - CA
New Media Expo Conference - Vegas
Folk Alliance SERFA - AR
Folk Alliance SWRFA - TX
NACA Nationals - MA
NACA Northern Plains Showcase - MN
NACA - Northeast Showcase - CT
NACA - Mid-Atlantic Showcase - PA
NACA - Mid-America Showcase - KY
NACA - Central Showcase - TX
APCA - Central Showcase - TX
Indie Buzz Bootcamp - St. Louis
Podcamp NYC - NY
Podcamp Boston - MA

Songwriters Hall of Fame - NYC
Behind The Song Caf - St. Louis
Acoustically Related - NYC
Under The Trees With Guitars - NYC
For the Love of Poetry - NYC
Just Plain Folks - NYC

Work Vessels for Veterans
Arthritis Foundation
Children International
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Epilepsy Coalition

Band Members