‘Letting someone read the diary of your life’

BARRINGTON — At age 17, Natalie Acciani picked up a guitar and learned how to play, and shortly after, bared her soul here, bringing her personal stories to the Barrington Coffee House.

“I just wanna cringe,” Acciani, now 21, said, recalling her first performance. “Singing live is like letting someone read the diary of your life.”

As she kept playing at coffeehouses and open mic nights in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, she grew more confident on stage, and her emotional vocals and heartfelt lyrics to her own original compositions, attracted more attention.

In 2010, she recorded her debut album, “A Dangerous Thing,” and most recently completed an EP, “I Can Dream.”

Born and raised in Cherry Hill, Acciani and her family went to Mass at St. Peter Celestine Church.

At 13, Acciani began developing her now-four-octave vocal range, training with world-renowned opera singer Badiene Magaziner. As well, she has been trained in opera, jazz, broadway, pop and country.

Time was also spent in Nashville, where Acciani got the opportunity to work with established songwriters in perfecting her craft. She labels her type of music pop-country, with her life experiences bursting through such songs as “I Need the Rain” and “I Can Dream.”

Acciani describes her songwriting process as recognizing those moments when “something (personal) happens, and emotions come out. I can’t talk about things that are personal, but I can write them out. I sit with my guitar, and it all makes sense.”

Acciani is one of the leaders of the ABLAZE young adult group at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Haddon Heights, and is passionate about passing on the Catholic faith, especially to her peers.

“My faith is the biggest thing in my life,” she says. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been on a more spiritual journey. Growing up, I’ve never had anyone to talk with about my faith. Now, (through ABLAZE), it’s incredible to have that sense of community.”

She and another young adult at St. Rose of Lima, Veronica Carolfi, are currently in the beginning stages of establishing a traveling music ministry, “Until You Smile,” which would bring the Catholic faith and music to parishes, helping youth and young adults understand God’s love, and how to bring that love to others.

“There are conflicting messages in pop culture,” Acciani says. The new ministry “will try to teach the Gospel, the truth, to youth and young adults.”

Acciani has recorded two songs with proceeds going to charity. “Jake’s Song” benefits the Jake Wetchler Foundation for Innovative Pediatric Cancer Research, named after a friend of hers who died from leukemia at the age of 20.

“One Day Closer” benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which is working for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. Acciani’s friend’s younger sibling has the disease. She has also recorded an educational music video featuring children with diabetes, and their families.

Both songs are on iTunes, and more information on Natalie Acciani and her music, including song clips and upcoming shows, can be found at www.natalieacciani.com.

She is performing Friday, Sept. 21, at Mugshots Coffeehouse at 6 p.m., in Philadelphia, and Saturday has a 1:30 afternoon performance at House of Brews in Turnersville.

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