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Natasha Bedingfield: The ‘Single Girl’ grows up

With nothing to lose and so much to gain, the U.K. pop singer is relishing her moment in the music spotlight and on the charts. After being known as the “Single Girl,” Natasha Bedingfield is finally growing up and taking the reins on life, love and her career.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Natasha Bedingfield’s first album, “Unwritten,” featured anthems for independent young women, urging them to take life by the horns and relish every moment. Critics and fans knew her as the “Single Girl.” But the Single Girl’s priorities are shifting, and Bedingfield’s newest album, which she co-wrote and co-produced, emphasizes her personal growth.

“I’m still very independent, but I’m in a different place now,” Bedingfield said on her official Web site biography. “I’ve been dating, searching for a partner, looking for Mr. Right. This album reflects those feelings and that journey.”

Bedingfield is taking her new songs on the road. She is currently headlining on her first American tour, and will open for New Kids on the Block’s sold-out reunion tour, which kicks off Sept. 18. On Friday, July 18, she will perform songs from her album live on the TODAY plaza.

The promotional flurry surrounding Bedingfield's new album is a change from the approach she took when she broke into the U.S. Less than three years ago, Bedingfield, despite having already taken the pop world by storm overseas, was traveling from radio station to radio station, city to city, with only a guitarist in tow.

“[Americans] don’t care if you’ve been successful anywhere else, they want to know who you are and see what you can do for themselves,” she told EMI Music Publishing. “I had to be willing to start over and prove myself from the ground up again.”

That she did. Her No. 1 single, “Unwritten,” earned her a Grammy nomination in 2006 and snagged the title of most-played song on mainstream American radio last year.

Bedingfield’s music can be described as a fusion of pop, R&B and soul, a pairing of her rich, bluesy voice with generally upbeat lyrics and catchy riffs. Her sound has mellowed out and matured in her recent album to match her evolving outlook on life.

Learning soul
Bedingfield credits participating in church activities as a girl with laying the foundation for her success and musical philosophy. “That’s where I learned how to sing with soul, and that singing and music is a real vehicle to express and feel — you know, your access to the spiritual through music,” she told TODAY’s Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford.

Growing up, her parents encouraged her musical talents, providing her with guitar and piano lessons. In her teens, Bedingfield and her siblings, Daniel and Nikola, formed a group that performed dance-pop music about religion and inner strength. Her experience with the group, DNA Algorithm, although short-lived, encouraged her to explore different genres of music and try her hand at songwriting. Later, Bedingfield spent a year at the University of Greenwich studying psychology to further sharpen her skills as a songwriter.

Bedingfield’s investments in songwriting are apparent in her lyrical, thoughtful tracks, as is her commitment to staying true to substance and intelligence. “I hope that when someone listens to my songs, they will discover a few different layers,” she told EMI Music Publishing.

Bedingfield describes her first album as the starting line, where the world was stretched out before her and her life was, as yet, “unwritten.” In her second album, she offers fans a glimpse of her reflections on the real-world experiences she’s had while living out the American dream.

When Kotb and Gifford asked about her feelings on touring in the U.S. for the first time, Bedingfield declared that it was “very exciting. My band rocks. At the end of the night, everyone’s up.”

And so is she. But from her vantage point at the top of the pop scene, a quick glance over the past few years will show that it’s been quite the ride.