It all began with a harmonica.
Five-year-old Natalie Claro was given a harmonica and to the surprise and delight of her parents, taught herself to play. Because she was so little, a ukulele, rather than a large guitar, followed and a precocious Natalie began to strum a tune, writing her first original composition in kindergarten. Soon after, her grandfather gifted her with a piano and Claro began playing music she heard on the radio by ear.
“I’m not so good on the drums, but I want to start getting lessons,” explained the now 15-year-old. “I want to be able to play like PJ Cruz.”
Claro has gotten pretty good at miming a drum solo by her fellow teen musician, a member of the local band The Cruz Brothers.
“I got my first guitar when I was 9 but didn’t really get serious about it until eighth grade,” said Claro.
In addition to guitar, she plays violin and electric guitar.
“As you can tell, I love music,” she said. “Now I know this is what I want to do. How lucky am I to discover what I want to do so young?”
Though Claro had always been involved in dance and orchestra through school, it wasn’t until an opportunity to appear in Life Amplified KIDSHELPINGKIDS, a variety showcase for charity in May 2014 at Carrollwood Players, that she first performed by herself.
That one song, the reaction of the crowd, the feeling of being on stage that only a performer can understand, set in motion a chain of events that still echoes today.
Claro has come a long way in a little over a year.
The straight-A student was recently featured at the Tampa Bay Acoustic Music Festival at the Hard Rock Café, has held center stage at Sacred Grounds Coffee Shop, Whistle Stop Girls with Guitars, Sea Sea Riders Restaurant, Hero Fest and other music festivals throughout Florida.
Claro credits her mom for finding the many opportunities for her and says her parents and her two best friends — Genevieve and Alexis — are her biggest supporters and fans.
“But I don’t think I would be who I am today if it wasn’t for my orchestra class at Wilson Middle School. I go back and visit Mr. Fox all the time. He’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had,” said Claro. “He inspired me with music and I will never forget him.”
Her eclectic musical tastes range from Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder to Amy Winehouse and rapper Childish Gambino.
“I love my original music, but I do covers and add my own flavor to it,” she said. “I’m never going to be a copycat of somebody else. I transform it into something that fits for me.”
Claro will be a performer on WMNF’s radio broadcast, Musicians Wanted, at 11 p.m. on Aug. 2 and will be performing back where she started, Life Amplified Saddle Up, on Sept. 19 at Carrollwood Players theatre.
The next step in her growth as an artist is to co-produce an EP and video.
“I’m going to do one song radio-ready and one song acoustically. Hopefully later on, I can come out with an album,” she said. “I want to see if I can promote my album so much that I have pre-orders before my album even comes out. I would love to have a following listening to my music. I would love to be on the radio nationwide.
“I also want to make a self-made music video,” she added. “My brain’s going crazy with ideas all the time.”
Just don’t ask her what she would do if tomorrow she couldn’t perform.
“I’d dig a hole and hide in it forever,” she said. “I get lightheaded just thinking about it.”
To book Natalie Claro and to find out where she’s performing next, visit www.natalieclaro .com and Facebook at natalieclaromusic.