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Well, she's finally done it folks. After just a few short years in the campus market, Natalie Stovall has been named the Entertainer Of The Year by the voters of Campus Activities Magazine® in the Reader's Choice Awards. One of the most common comments about this performer is "I don't even like country, but I like this country. It almost didn't even seem like a country show." Put it this way, when she rips "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," it's in a medley with some Metallica. Her's is a show bred for wide audiences, and this year that mainstream popularity paid off with her winning the big one.
4,349 .edus voted in this category, with Natalie raking in 1648 votes, or just under 38% of the vote. It was a hard fought battle against magician Michael Kent's 1109 votes that was neck and neck until the last two days when a final surge allowed Natalie to pull out the win.
"She is amazing. Even after we had her at our school, I have seen her 5 times and she is very personal. She definitely does this for her fans and makes sure that every fan in the audience has a good time. If you leave a show sad, you didn't go to a Natalie Stovall show." -email@example.com
"Have you ever seen Natalie perform? Once you see her, nobody else matters. Yes, she is THAT GOOD!!! Peace, Love and Fiddle, BABY!!!" -firstname.lastname@example.org
"Great choice for Entertainer of the Year 2012!" -email@example.com
There is little doubt that few have had the whirlwind success in the campus market of late as Natalie, if ever. She has the distinction of being one of only two females to win this award and one of two music acts as well. In a category which has been largely dominated by male variety entertainers, she is the very first female music act in 20 years of RCA's to win our most coveted prize, which besides being a great accolade, carries the cover of each April issue.
If you've ever heard of Justin "Kredible" Willman, host of Food Network's "Cupcake Wars," you might know that his Entertainer of The Year win helped him get his foot in the door with "Rachael Ray" and eventually onto his own shows. We can only hope this win could be a similar indicator for Natalie's career. "It's amazing, I don't really know how to respond to it. It is an incredible feeling and such a fun place to be in because we love what we do so much, to then win such an accolade on top of it is immensely gratifying. To be recognized as being one of the best at something you love to do is living the dream."
It has been an incredible year for Natalie, touring the world. The last time we spoke, she had won an Award in 2010 for Best Music Performer. In the two years since, Natalie has literally crisscrossed the globe. "This past year has been one of the most incredible years I could ever have imagined. We went almost completely around the world touring. We did a lot with the military, our first big trip was Memorial Day, when we went to Guantanamo Bay to play with Young Joc and a few country acts. Then for the 4th of July we did an Asian tour with four shows in Japan, Diego Garcia and Guam. For Thanksgiving we were in the Middle East, playing in Djibouti, Africa and Bahrain, as well as on board some actively deployed ships. We did a show in Spain on our way home through Europe."
"The whole show was very upbeat and high tempo. You never knew what was coming next. And, she was willing to travel overseas to entertain." -firstname.lastname@example.org
It might seem like conditions for a prime case of culture shock, but Natalie says for the most part her handlers for the US Military provided a familiar buffer no matter where they were. "We get to submerge ourselves into local culture some, and while they are all extremely different and there are some of the little things you notice all the time, for the most part since we were playing for the military, we are on U.S. Military bases. We have this strange feeling where we know we are in the middle of Japan and when we go out to dinner it is at a real Japanese restaurant where we can barely communicate what we want (if we even know what's on the menu), but the same day we were eating lunch at Subway on a U.S. Military base. Everyone is speaking English around us, there is this sort of weird parallel universe where you almost feel like you're in two places at once."
"Natalie is simply the best." -email@example.com
Don't feel too bad for Nat, though...she definitely got to see and do some really cool stuff. "We do get to experience many of the cultures as well. Some of that is going to and from venues, but they try to take us on little trips or activities here and there when we get a chance. I mean, it's incredible...it's everything I ever wanted. I get to travel the world with my best friends and play music while we are doing it. Who could ask for more? I've been lifted onto an aircraft carrier in an open helicopter, shot a .50 caliber rifle, and bounced from place to place being thanked over and over by a bunch of folks who should be asking me to thank them."
"Natalie and her band rocked our campus two years ago and we can't wait to have her back for our Spring Fling this April!" -firstname.lastname@example.org
The military has been the hot ticket recently, with many characters flocking to the government teet, and not always offering services or shows that are appropriate for the military, or with the best intentions. Natalie seems to be a little different however, not only coming from Tennessee which has a strong military tradition in itself, but being from a military family as well. Her passion and conviction for those in the Armed Services has made her success with military shows doubly rewarding. "First, it's really hard to complain about these tours in any way. We had one lineup that had six shows in 14 days. I was like "What? Really? We do 16 shows in 14 days sometimes!" It seemed like nothing. Of course flying from continent to continent instead of driving state to state takes an entirely different toll on your body.
"Despite that, for me doing the military shows is more than worth it, on many levels. First, my father is a retired Army Colonel so I grew up in that culture with that family experience. Playing for the military is 100% absolutely the best audiences that we have ever seen. There is this"(sighs, searching for words)...unbelievable cycle of gratitude that has honestly been the most baffling thing to deal with."
"Natalie gave us a performance to remember FOREVER!" -email@example.com
Once she explains it, one can see how there is an interesting sort of paradox that must be a little bit awkward to get adjusted to. "So, we are there, brought in and paid for as a means of saying thanks by playing for the troops. We are there because of what they do for us...it's the only way I know how to say thank you. You don't feel like normal words can say thank you enough for the sacrifices they are making for all of us, but when they say thank you to ME for being there, well that's when my head just starts to explode, because I don't know how to handle that. At the same time, it is what is so beautiful about those shows. We are there to say thank you for their service (in addition to the gigs), and they say thank you over and over because we bring a piece of home to them there and I'm sure it's ridiculously sappy to anyone who might see it from the outside, but I have grown to love it."
While obviously the trips around the world for the military have been a unique highlight for Natalie this year, she doesn't want anyone to mistake the fact that her wheelhouse is still the campus market. "About 80% of our shows are still for college audiences," she says. "They're our bread and butter, and I don't see that changing any time soon. The campus market is what we have to thank for where we are today. Without the hundreds upon hundreds of shows we've played for campus activities and student programming boards across the country, I don't know where we'd be. Certainly we would have never had the opportunity to play the military shows we discussed and if anyone deserves our thanks and recognition for this win it's all of our friends across the country in the campus market."
"Natalie Stovall's concert was THE most amazing concert I've ever been to in my 20 years of going to concerts (including many big name bands/singers). She is musically gifted with the violin, her voice is absolutely amazing, and she travels around the world to many military bases and forward-deployed remote places to entertain the troops which is fabulous!! Love her." -firstname.lastname@example.org
"Bringing her back a second time, in the works of possibly bringing her again next year, listen to her CDs everyday." -email@example.com
"That's ME!" -firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on bringing Natalie to your next mainstream concert event, contact Degy 732.818.9600 or email@example.com