Through difficult times, music has accompanied Natalie Dahan


SING: Natalie Dahan sold out her first show at AMPLYFi on Melrose.

By Maital Hiller, 10th Grade

It’s impossible to find the right words to say. All I can do right now is tell myself I’ll be okay.

 “Impossible” is a song that alumna Natalie Dahan wrote to help her overcome the rough patches in her life through the musical career she has embarked upon — not that it’s her real career though.
Natalie, who graduated in 2014, is a sophomore pre-med student at Cal State Northridge.  She has volunteered with sick children in Haiti and currently maintains a job working with patients at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in the Emergency center. But in her free time, she sings in front of large crowds and has released a full studio vocal album.

She credits her singing with making the rest of her life, well, possible.

After graduating from Shalhevet, she decided to start a musical career as an escape from her academic life. Her passion for music had been consistent, though she only discovered her performance talent as a high school student.

Her first album as a singer-songwriter is called Forbidden Love.

“After I broke up with my boyfriend, I wrote a song about him and it ended up being good so I continued,” said Natalie in an interview with the Boiling Point.“I was just messing around with my sister, playing random chords and wrote a song.”

The tracks on Forbidden Love reflect her journey into the professional music world. For instance, she wrote “Impossible” to help her overcome her obstacles as she navigates a performance career in its infancy. The song describes the hard times she has been through, times when singing was her outlet to express inner feelings.

These days all of our fighting will come to an end. We don’t have to pretend, one of these days.

During this song, Natalie plays the chords on her guitar and has a beat from an electric piano in the background. In all of Natalie’s songs, her voice is heard throughout the lyrics. The music itself is very intense, in the sense that she offers us a vivid picture of how she is feeling inside.

“My songs are very personal and come from hard times I have come across,” Natalie said. “When I decided to pursue this album and post it on music sites, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in regards to music. I wasn’t sure if anyone would like it.”

But her songs have always been well-received. Shortly after high school, Natalie had her first big break when she held her first sold out performance at a music venue, the AMPLYFi on Melrose. From there, her passion for the art and a following of fans started to take off.

“It was the most amazing feeling,” Natalie said of the full-to-capacity the performance at AMPLYFi. “A dream come true—the room hit max capacity, and all my CD albums were sold.”

Natalie got her start in musical performance when she joined the Choirhawks during her freshman year. Over the course of her four years at Shalhevet, she sang under the direction of Mrs. Joelle Keene, the group’s director.

“I have rarely seen a person grow as much through music as Natalie,” said Mrs. Keene. “She has a very memorable voice that I could listen to for a long time. She worked hard, practiced a lot and took lyrics seriously.”

Natalie attributes her vocal development to the group.

“My voice improved throughout every day.” Natalie said.

The subjects of her songs vary, though Natalie often draws upon real-world experiences. One song from her debut album, titled “These Days,” is a reflection on the modern state of the world and Israel—and the impact current events have on our lives.

In it, she sings,  “Don’t want to be forever fighting, caress the cracks on the black road.”  

Judaism itself has provided Natalie with some cracks in the road. In Judaism, public vocal performance by women is often limited due to the restrictions of kol isha—literally “voice of a woman.” In some communities, this concept precludes women from performing alone in front of audiences that include male observers. On her album, as with her performance at AMPLYFi, Natalie’s voice is the only one present.

When she came to Shalhevet in ninth grade, girls were not allowed to sing solos with the choir.  But midway through her sophomore year, Head of School Rabbi Ari Segal issued new guidelines for observing kol isha, allowing girls to sing solos at school if they followed certain rules. These included ensuring that songs not contain any suggestive lyrics, that females are dressed modestly and the performance venues are appropriate.

At the Purim talent show that year, Natalie became only the second girl to sing a solo at Shalhevet. She chose her first song carefully — “Someone Like You,” by Adele.

“This was the only time I felt super-nervous,” she said. “But it helped me with stage fright.”

Like her singing, Natalie’s interest in medicine goes beyond the classroom. Her experience volunteering last summer in Haiti, where she provided medical assistance to Haitians who had no access to hospitals, contributed to her desire to enter the medical field.

“I want to provide underserved communities with health care and eradicating racial biases in the medical field.” she said.

Having medicine as her primary career focus, she said, means her music can be personal — and a relief from stress, instead of a cause of it.

“I’m not in it for money,” she said. “I’m in it because I cannot imagine my life without music. To step out of stressful situations. Music is my healing therapy and I use it to help other’s to the best of my ability.”