Superpower on the Side is a new series that features WeWork team members and how they spend their time when they’re not at work.
Onstage at a last-minute performance in Los Angeles earlier this month, Natalie Hart silently reflected on the pieces that fell into place to bring her there. In L.A. for WeWork’s Global Summit, an annual gathering for WeWork employees—Hart is the community manager at New York’s WeWork 134 N 4th Street—Hart arranged a performance of original songs from her recently released album and managed to squeeze in a visit with her Marine brother before his deployment.
She returned home to New York City feeling inspired and fulfilled by the strong community—friends, family, and coworkers—pushing her forward. While many other companies expect you to backburner your passions to focus on your job, Hart explains, WeWork “empowers me to hold my two identities side by side.” This support allows her to take full advantage of her free time to pursue her music career—a dream she’s had since she was a little girl.
Music was always a part of Hart’s life. Her grandfather was a minister of music at a church in Dallas, and her father performed in a barbershop quartet. “I’ve been singing obnoxiously since I could talk,” she says.
When an 18-year-old Hart moved to Nashville to study the music business at Belmont University, she didn’t look or sound like anyone else in the country-loving city. “I grew up on female jazz vocalists,” she says, “and I’ve always been into vintage fashion.” Over the next four years, Hart found her niche as a retro-jazz singer.
After college, she took her musical career to New York City but continued to work remotely for a Nashville startup to make ends meet. While New York offered fresh lyrical inspiration, it also brought creative challenges. ”It’s more of a melting pot,” she says. “There are a ton of jazz artists, and everyone is merging genres together.” Hart broadened her musical style—making it more acoustic, theatrical, and modern—to create a signature sound that is uniquely her own.
While moving to New York City pushed Hart to new triumphs artistically, “I didn’t have a network or community supporting me other than a few key players,” Hart says. “That was really hard for me.” After the startup that she worked for went under, Hart found her next job at WeWork—and got an unexpected creative boost.
“The community that I’m creating feeds into the other piece of what I do,” she says. Hart feels supported not only from her coworkers but from WeWork members in her building. “Half my shows are usually members,” she says. “I support them, they support me.”
Hart has performed at several WeWork events, including the annual Summer Camp for employees and members held outside London. In 2017, she extended her stay to spend time writing songs for an album she’d been working on for four years. On that trip, she set a goal for herself. “Why am I waiting for all the stars to align?” she asked herself. ”I can get this out within a year.” She made a deadline for herself: Sept. 23, 2018—her 27th birthday. And after a busy year of writing, recording, and working with a producer and sound mixer, Hart released her album, Curtains, on Sept. 22, one day before her deadline.
On the night of her album release, Hart performed at Olmsted Salon with family, friends, teammates, and WeWork members in the audience. It’s a concert she will forever remember. “I felt super thankful,” she says. “These were the people who carried me over the finish line.”
Lately, Hart’s weekends are spent planning her tour through the U.S. and Europe and performing with Sofar Sounds, a startup that organizes concerts showcasing independent artists. In fact, you can catch her at a Sofar Sounds concert in New York on Jan 25.
For Hart, bringing her album to life in front of an audience is what makes the hard work worthwhile. “Live music preserves moments in a very beautiful way,” she says. It also creates a sense of connection among the audience, believes Hart—by attending her show, they become part of her journey.