By Han Sang-hee
The Internet offers a wide range of entertainment options and now it has become one of the major windows to stardom. That was what happened to Natalie White. The 28-year-old musician from the United States who posted her videos on YouTube singing K-pop was "discovered" by local Internet users and was invited here to appear in SBS' popular program "Star King".
"I'm still trying to believe it. I always wanted to visit Korea but it all happened so fast, I can't actually believe I'm here now", she told The Korea Times during an interview last week.
White shot to stardom online with her distinctive voice and versions of popular songs like Girls' Generation
's "Gee", TVXQ's "Mirotic" and one of her favorites, May Doni
"I was working on my own songs and I was having writer's block. I love May Doni
's song and I thought, well, I've got the instrumental so why don't I give it a shot. Then I did "Gee" and since I didn't have the instrumental I did my own version. That's what sparked it all and I think a lot of people really enjoyed that version of the song", White said.
Even she was surprised to find that so many people enjoyed her work, as it was not particularly aimed at attracting attention.
"I put the video up and went to bed and six hours later, I wake up and there was a half a million kids (who watched my video). I got a hundred emails and I was like `what happened? This is crazy!"', she laughed.
Growing up in Indiana, White started classical piano training when she was three. She then played for her church and eventually discovered that she enjoyed singing and so she started to write her own songs.
" The music really comes first for me. I really just sing to accommodate the songs I like. I felt like I had the knack for songwriting and making music and harmonies, but my voice… well, it's okay", she said.
White actually made her first television debut through the spin off show of hit reality series "American Idol", called "All American Girl", where female contestants had to compete and be voted out through viewers' phone calls.
Thanks to an international television channel at college in Chicago, where she studied cognitive science and linguistics, White was drawn by the dramas and pop idols from Korea.
"What I love so much about Korean dramas is they treat falling in love with such innocence. They make you feel like a little schoolgirl falling in love for the first time. It's just so sweet and everyone's so shy. Whereas in America, our dramas are more about struggling, making hard decisions and hardcore action. That's what Americans like", she explained.
After falling for Korean dramas and music, White started to teach herself Korean with the help of the Internet. Surprisingly enough, her Korean seems superb in the videos, but White said she still didn't have any confidence in speaking.
In the case of watching Korean music videos, White said she felt nostalgic.
"We don't have a lot of fun idol groups that much anymore. It reminds me of those days and that's what pop music is about", she said.
White said she will continue to pursue her career in music, whether it being in the U.S. or Korea.
"I certainly didn't expect something like this would happen. To produce and writer songs for artists have my own albums that would be great. I really like a genre called trip hop, a mix of hip hop and alternative electronic style, but in terms of producing, I like to do a little bit of everything. I'm so touched and moved over the reception here in Korea I never imagined this would happen and this is literally a dream come. I will continue to work hard and hopefully I'll stick around for a long time", she said smiling.
Natalie White became a sudden star in Korea with her YouTube performanc of Girls' Generation