Natasha sings our praises
The songbird loves her Kiwi escapes
From the Auckland suburb of Hillsborough to the bright lights of Los Angeles, Kiwi pop star Natasha Bedingfield has come a long way since her school days in New Zealand – and now the Grammy nominee has opened up for the first time about how her Kiwi roots have shaped her.
Though her Kiwi parents moved to England after the birth of her big brother, fellow singer and TheXFactorNZ judge Daniel, the 35-year-old “Love Like This” diva attended primary school in the City of Sails and has since spent a substantial amount of time on our shores. In fact, Aotearoa is her favourite place to spend quality time with her husband of eight years, Californian businessman Matt Robinson.
“We go every couple of years,” says Natasha, speaking to Woman’sDay backstage after a gig in LA. “I’m very close to my grandparents. I have one nana and one granddad still alive there.
“And we love to go sailing there. Matt’s got a licence so we can go anywhere in the world with our sailboat. He’s the captain and I have to do whatever he says, and he loves that. It’s the only place where I don’t question him!”
While Matt commands at sea, Natasha is the expert with all things Kiwi and says her time in NZ proved to have a strong impact on her life and career. She earned a Grammy nomination for her hit “Unwritten”, which she says is about female empowerment, and believes much of her passion for girl power stems from her background.
“Because we grew up as immigrants, we developed a lot of our identity in the New Zealand culture. Things like how New Zealanders speak their mind and women are equal. It was the first country where women could vote, so being feminist and being equal to men are important to us. Plus, it’s just such a beautiful country, so the nature of New Zealand has really impacted me a lot.”
The Bedingfield family’s years in the UK were also pivotal, with Natasha – one of four kids – recently revealing that much of her childhood involved financial struggles. She says her parents had to fight to provide for the family after moving to England to work for various charities.
Natasha recalls her pennywise mum budgeting the equivalent of $56 a week for food, then visiting supermarkets late at night so they could buy end-of-day items at discounted prices. She says the family also relied on second-hand clothing and lived in an area populated with unsavoury characters.
“There were a lot of very weird people around us, but we thought that was how the world was. It was a fun childhood because our parents included us in everything, but it was interesting to grow up and realise not everyone is a drug addict! We grew up with a lot of addicts around us and just thought that was very normal.”
Natasha started working part-time gigs when she was 11, then followed in Daniel’s footsteps after he earned his big musical break with the 2002 worldwide smash hit “Gotta Get Thru This”.
As well as earning her own chart success with singles “These Words” and “Pocketful
‘ Buying a house was a really big moment for me’
of Sunshine”, she’s performed for the Pope, toured with Justin Timberlake, hung with Katy Perry, and recorded music with Beyoncé and Mariah Carey.
But while money is no longer a struggle, Natasha still doesn’t take cash for granted and struggles to name her biggest splurge over the years.
“When you grow up with not a lot of money, you keep reminding yourself what money is worth and you try to keep in touch with that,” she says. “Buying a house was really a big moment for me – and buying a car.
“My dream as a kid was, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a store, not look at the prices and just buy clothes?’ So just doing that for the first time – putting a whole outfit on and not looking at the price – felt very decadent!”
Natasha and Matt married in Malibu in 2009 and the singer says “having distance” has been key to making their marriage work in a town where each year of wedded bliss is “like dog years”.
“The thing that has been a good key ingredient for us is that when we started dating, we were used to our own space and, personality-wise, we’re both introverts, so we like time alone.
“We don’t feel insecure when we’re apart and we trust each other. We do miss each other, but sometimes missing someone makes you love them more. Sometimes it’s a good thing!”
-- Time apart from Matt makes Natasha appreciate their time together even more.
Natasha and brother Daniel.
Having a loving, close-knit family has helped the singer to always see the world through rosetinted glasses.