|Natasha and Gary Pinto pictured at Easterfest music festival, April 2012. Natasha releases her EP, Sending Out a Message this week.|
"I told the kids I was with that I wasn't getting up for anything in the world, it was so cold, but when I heard him I sat up in my sleeping bag," she says.
The rest, as they say, is history. After friending each other on Facebook and gigging together in Perth, they dated long-distance (she in Perth, he in Melbourne) but not for long. "A job came up doing backing vocals on Australian Idol in 2009," says Natasha. "I ended up getting the job, so we only dated long distance for two weeks."
Now married, the Melbourne-based couple's music styles are the perfect complement. She looks like Aishwarya Rai and sounds like Sade (well, one part Sade, one part Amel Larriwux of Groove Theory fame), but has no airs, only grace. He is a man with a tender heart who's been beating around the music business since the days of his Aussie boy band CBD (Natasha tells me her sister was a fan and had a CBD poster on her wall when she was 10).
This week Natasha launches her EP, Sending Out a Message, positing her as a rising star within Australia's neo-soul movement. She cites Erykah Badu, Sade, Brandy and Jill Scott as influences of the pop/soul/R&B groove variety, but likes all styles of music. She studied jazz and contemporary music at university before teaching music at a high school in Perth.
She has toured with the likes of BoyzIIMen, Jo-Jo, Justin Timberlake and Rihanna, has gigged locally with Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy, and has performed backing vocals for The X Factor, Jimmy Barnes and Vanessa Amarosi. Her hidden talent is makeup artistry: she does a lot of work for Sony artists and on The X Factor with her M.A.C. makeup kit, which helps support her music.
Performing at Easterfest 2012, Gary is open with his audience about the challenges he faced as a young man in the music business, hanging his head in humility all the while his eyes delight in the thought that none of that matters in the grand scheme of things. He's a fan of singer-guitarist Diesel (aka Mark Lizotte), whom he calls his "brother", and incorporates two of his songs into his repertoire.
But his eyes light up when his wife takes the microphone. Together they sing "Sending Out a Message", the title track from the EP. "We wrote it together with another friend from Electric Empire and Damian Banzigou," says Natasha.
While Gary co-wrote the World Youth Day anthem with Guy Sebastian and penned the official song for Mary MacKillop's canonisation, the couple have also collaborated on a Christian children's album called As U R and have written a set of lyrics for the Catholic church with Robert Galea, a musician and ordained priest, that will be published soon.
"Gary's just the best person I know," she says. "He's got the most beautiful heart in the world."
See Natasha perform at her EP launch on Friday 11th May at Rah Bar, Melbourne, or buy her EP on iTunes.
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