For the New York City-raised songwriter and performer Natalie Gelman, nothing is too much information when it comes to songwriting. Gelman, who writes her own songs or uses prompts from friends and even strangers (through services like Downwrite), knows the littlest detail may open up the biggest portal.
“A long aside might end up just as a tiny mention but all of those combine to make the song super personal and special,” says Gelman of the collaborative process.
Case in point, the artist’s newest and ukulele-based single, “Spend My Days With You.” The tune is a love song that was custom-written to be used as part of a marriage proposal in Paris.
“I wrote about how they met and fell in love and included lots of moments and details that [the groom-to-be] shared with me to make it personal and special,” Gelman says.
Gelman has written custom-made songs for anniversaries, wedding presents, birthdays, friendships, celebrations of life, and “just-because” gifts.
“I ask a lot of questions to try to get to know what the person wants to say who’s giving the song and what they think the person receiving it will love,” she says.
And sometimes when you do something just right, you get an extra reward.
“We finished the song,” Gelman says, “and I flew to Paris and was part of an amazing setup Mark [the groom-to-be] created for the proposal. I was playing music at the Medici fountain as a busker when he and Jenn [the bride-to-be] walked up and were listening.
“She was already familiar with some of my original music and had it on her playlists but didn’t recognize me. Mark and Jenn came over to say hello and we got to talking and realized we were all American and from California. I asked to take a photo with her and then if I could play them a brand new song I had written which was ‘Spend My Days With You.’
“I started the song and almost forgot my own lyrics singing it to them because the look on Jenn’s face as she realized it was about them and the realization came over her was so incredible and special. I’ll never forget her beaming and feeling all that love in the moment.”
Afterward, Mark proposed. Boo-ya!
Gelman, who recently opened on stage for Bon Jovi, started songwriting early in life even though she had convinced herself at first the art form wasn’t meant for her.
“I studied classical voice, violin, and piano growing up and loved music from a really young age, always knowing I wanted to play music,” she says. “However, I thought that writing music was only men who were dead and had crazy hairstyles because that’s what I picked up as a kid.”
Later, though, she took classes at performing arts school, took lessons, and began writing music on guitar for over a decade. Now, she uses her powers for good and the sake of communicating important messages to people.
“For me,” Gelman says, “songwriting has always been a kind of therapy and making sense of the ups and downs of life and sharing stories.”
Photo by Brent Florence, courtesy Shore Fire Media.