soar above the NBA court
Straight up: Not since Paula Abdul strutted and squeaked her way
to platinum sales has an NBA dancer/choreographer made as big
a musical splash as Natalie. Though she hasn't yet officially
quit her day job as "power dancer" for the Houston Rockets,
the 25-year-old hit No. 1 on Billboard's singles chart last week
with the wistful Goin' Crazy. Natalie will join Frankie J and
Baby Bash on tour April 30 and will release her self-titled debut
album May 17.
up: As a girl in Houston, Natalie Alvarado remembers "going
crazy for Michael Jackson's Off the Wall" and listening to
his sister Janet, Madonna "and even people like Kiss and
Led Zeppelin." Abdul was another favorite: "I watched
her videos and the ones she choreographed for Janet Jackson. I
take it as a compliment when people compare (us)."
out: After attending junior college in east Texas for a year on
a dance scholarship, Natalie joined the Rockets squad. She soon
started applying her rhythmic talents vocally as well, finding
work at local recording sessions. "I started out as a freestyle
rapper in Houston. I wrote lyrics, too."
— for real: "About two years ago, I wanted to quit
the whole music thing," Natalie says. Her single, an account
of romantic angst based on "something I went through personally,"
languished for a year and a half before release, "and my
patience was really being run down. I said, if music isn't for
me, I'll accept it, though it will be hard."
After all that waiting and wondering, Natalie says, "I'm
so happy with the outcome of the CD. I have a pretty soft voice,
but Happy Perez (Natalie's longtime friend and a co-producer of
her CD, with past credits including Jadakiss, Mystikal and Master
P) set it to beats that are going to make guys want to drive around
in their cars to it. We don't know if we should call it R&B
or pop; it's just easy, rhythmic melodies with great beats."
"Five to 10 years from now, I hope that I've won a couple
of Grammys. I would also love to do movies and sitcoms, because
I'm more of a funny person. I would love to do Saturday Night
Live skits. And I'd love to work with Beyoncé; she's also
from Houston, and she's a wonderful writer and one of the best
entertainers. And Usher, and Missy Elliott. ... I'm just going
to keep going for my dream."