Issue 34 / Italian-Canadian Singer Takes On The Bollywood Music Scene

Italian-Canadian Singer Takes On The Bollywood Music Scene

Jan 24, 2016

At just 20 years old, Natalie Di Luccio left the comforts of her home in Vaughan, Ontario to embark on a life-changing journey, pursuing a singing career more than 12,500 kilometers away in India.

“Magic lies beyond your comfort zone,” says the 26-year-old Italian-Canadian singer who followed that motto straight across the ocean to another continent. These days Di Luccio lives in Bandra, Mumbai

— a very cosmopolitan and trendy suburb in India

— on one of the upper floors of a flat, where she claims she can see all of Mumbai. Admitting she has come a long way since arriving to India five years ago and experiencing pure culture shock, she’s now developed a deep fascination with the country. 

"I crave this diversity now. India […] is the perfect place for someone like me," says Di Luccio.
Photo Credit: Natalie Di Luccio

The brown-haired, brown-eyed beauty started singing at just four-years-old, training in Western classical music and citing Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti among her musical inspirations. Growing up, she fondly remembers looking through the newspapers for any auditions posted in the classified section. One of her most notable performances came at 17, when she sang the national anthem at the first Buffalo Bills NFL game in Toronto.

Di Luccio performed at the Rogers Centre to a packed house for the first game in the Bills-in-Toronto series.
Photo Credit: Natalie Di Luccio 

Her big Bollywood break came when a producer working on Indian singing legend Sonu Nigam’s album discovered her material on MySpace. She was asked to record some chants from Canada for Nigam's album — she did, not knowing whose songs she was working on. It was only when the finished product was mailed to her did she realize out how popular Nigam was in India. She listened to all of his songs on repeat. “That was my first real introduction to Indian music and I got hooked.” It seems Nigam was hooked too, convincing her to come to India during their first meeting in Toronto.

Of course when she arrived in India, the songstress had no intention of staying. She took Nigam up on his offer only as an oppourtunity to learn more about Indian music and culture

— little did she know India would catapult her career into the fast-lane, with the projects pouring in her one-month stay turned into five months. Back home, Di Luccio’s family was constantly worried about the young singer on her own in a foreign country. Eventually they learnt to deal with it because she wasn’t giving up on India that easily.

"I fell in love with Mumbai. […] The buzz of this city is magical," says Di Luccio.
Photo Credit: Ram Bherwani

Di Luccio has since carved quite a path for herself in the Bollywood music industry, but while back home in 2010 she describes her YouTube cover of Tu Janne Na a real “game changer.” Revealing she uploaded the song for a certain someone back in India, she had no idea it would end up being the most watched video in the country the day she released it. “At that time no one had ever sung a Hindi cover on YouTube and the culture for that didn’t really exist yet.”

When she decided to stay in India permanently, Di Luccio moved on from singing background scores in Hindi films, like Agent Vinod and Jail to actually learning Hindi, Tamil and Marathi

— some of the languages that make up the rich fabric of India

— so she could lay down vocals for film songs, including blockbuster hit Chennai Express and critically acclaimed English Vinglish.

“Let’s just say it’s been a linguistic journey,” says Di Luccio who didn’t know a word of Hindi

— India’s official language

— before coming, but now understands about 75 per cent and can speak enough Hindi to deal with any situation. She didn't get to that point with any textbook, she explains, instead choosing to completely immerse herself in the language and ask as many questions as she could.

“Amazing,” is how Di Luccio describes her working and performing experiences in India so far. However, she admits some of her best memories have been with Grammy and Academy Award-winning musician A.R. Rahman, who really understands how to use her voice thanks to his classical music training. Rahman worked with Di Luccio on her first Tamil song for the film I, which the pair went on to perform in front of Hollywood heavyweight Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tamil film icon Rajinikanth. The musical genius also taught Di Luccio her first Arabic melody for an Iranian film.

"What I love about [A.R. Rahman] is that he is open to trying new things," Di Luccio says.
Photo Credit: Natalie Di Luccio

Even with her busy schedule, Di Luccio tries to visit her family twice a year and still makes time to call them every single day. And on the days she really misses home, she Skypes with them. But she notes India values friendship and family so much that she has been able to develop a great support system. “When you make a friend you make it for life and you become a part of their family,” she says. The multilingual singer, who is currently single, also adds that she has never felt alone in India.

As for any negativity the singer gets from critics, she doesn’t let it get to her. When Di Luccio first started out in India’s music industry she would worry over any newspaper article printed about her. That was until she realized people don’t analyze things as deeply as she would. “There will always be people out there who criticize but I’ve learned […] to laugh it off. It’s all part of the journey!”

Her latest music video is a fusion of Italian and Rajasthani culture.
Photo Credit: Natalie Di Luccio

Next up for Di Luccio is something that’s been a dream of hers for years

— making beautiful music that helps further bridge the gap between the East and West. And her dream is now becoming a reality thanks to the release of her song A Dream from Rajasthan, which fuses the lyrics of a Rajasthani folk singer with her Italian-classical lyrics. The video, which Di Luccio calls her most ambitious to date, was shot in Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort and tells the story of two people from completely different worlds wishing for the same thing

— a world full of peace and freedom.

Main Image Photo Credit: Abey Abraham


Neetu Seupersadsingh


Neetu Seupersadsingh has loved writing for as long as she can remember. That's why Carleton University’s journalism program  was her clear choice for post-secondary studies. In Ottawa, she was able to further develop her skill in arts, entertainment and lifestyle reporting. So...


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