Editor’s Note: This event has been cancelled. Please check the organizer’s web site for updates.
Known for her energy, playfulness and emotionally riveting vocals, Natalie Douglas brings her considerable talents to Orinda March 15 as part of the Live in Orinda concert series at the Orinda Theatre.
The award-winning singer, who just happens to have a four-octave vocal range, has appeared throughout the United States, South America and Europe, paying tribute to such diverse singers as Nina Simone, Lena Horne, Nat “King” Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Stevie Nicks and Dolly Parton.
With a repertoire that includes the music of the ‘70s and ‘80s and gospel-influenced jazz and blues, it’s no wonder Douglas’ portrait is on the famed Birdland Jazz Club’s Wall of Fame.
For her Orinda concert, Douglas brings the vocal stylings of Nina Simone, Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln and Billie Holiday together in “Four Women.” While this combination of talented singers would give any performer pause, Douglas has the vocal range to easily go from jazz diva to blues icon to Broadway star with a bit of comedienne and historical perspective thrown in for good measure.
“I spend a lot of time researching the singers and the time, place where they lived,” Douglas said. “All four of these women are heroes of mine, and they all knew and admired each other. Abbey even dedicated one of her albums to Billie. Sometimes when Lena or Abbey were in a show, they would head over to a club afterwards to listen to Nina or Billie. I find so many interesting stories to share with my audience. I want people to feel entertained but also knowing something new about the artists.”
Douglas graduated Phi Beta Kappa from University of Southern California with a Magna Cum Laude Bachelor of Arts in psychology and certificates in theater and women’s studies. Douglas also holds a master’s degree in psychology from University of California, Los Angeles. She teaches diversity workshops for public and private schools across the country as well as workshops for performers.
Although she lives on the East Coast with her husband Billy Joe Young, Douglas has strong ties to the Bay Area thanks to Ancestry.com. When her parents died, a cousin told Douglas that she was adopted. After her astonishment diminished, she began looking for her biological parents. A DNA test through Ancestry.com led her to her biological father, a San Francisco resident and long-time advocate for the city’s African American population, Rev. Arnold Townsend.
“It was a shock finding out I was adopted,” said Douglas. “At first, I was angry at my adoptive parents but what is past is past. Finding out I was adopted changed everything and changed nothing. My childhood is still my childhood and my cousins are still my cousins.”
Townsend had recently buried his 38-year-old daughter when he received a text from Douglas. He had no idea he had another child and quickly realized his high school girlfriend must have been pregnant when he left for college. Townsend was never told about the birth.
Douglas said meeting her birth father has been “almost 100 percent joy. We agree on almost everything. The sad part is learning I had a sister and not being able to know her.”
Live at the Orinda featuring Douglas takes place 5 p.m. at the Orinda Theatre, 2 Orinda Theatre Square. For tickets, go to www.orindamovies.com. For more information on Douglas, go to www.nataliedouglas.com.