NATALIE Henry’s life over the past three years has endured more twists and bends than any country road she’s ever sung about.
She’s fostered a musical talent she never knew existed, watched her marriage and band collapse, found new love, and most importantly, discovered her true self.
Last week the Newcastle country artist released her debut solo single, If We Said Goodbye, at 37. It’s a brutally honest account of family life during a marriage breakdown. Her album Apple & Pride will follow in September.
As a mother of daughters Gia, 10, Luca, 8, and Eddie, 4, Natalie knows first hand the struggles families face in broken homes, after she and her husband Brock split 18 months ago.
The pair, who performed together as alt-country duo The Wayward Henrys, had been married five years and together since Natalie was 16.
“I wrote it after I said goodbye,” Natalie says. “For me, it felt like women - or at least I did - find it really hard to leave a marriage that they’re so unhappy in because they want their children to be happy and they don’t want any mess or ill-feelings.
“I wanted that message out there for other women that the kids will be fine and it’s totally fine to be a separate family and still work united together.”
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Natalie and Brock remain close friends and supportive of each other’s music. The Wayward Henrys released their only album Cold Love in 2016, and while well-received, their marriage was faltering as their music career was growing.
“I’ve now realised what it was, but at the time I didn’t know why it wasn’t working,” she says. “Why I couldn’t just love him. That was really the break up album before following through with the actual break up.”
Natalie has since found a new partner in life and music in Newcastle musician Emily A Smith. Smith, Michael Muchow and Andrew McClean all appear on Apple & Pride.
“This solo album is absolutely about finding out who I am completely,” Natalie says. “I’m now with Em, so I didn’t even realise I was gay before. It’s a huge change. My whole life has been turned upside down.”
Natalie is the definition of the late bloomer. She only began performing at 33 after she became frustrated with “changing nappies, doing all the mum things” while Brock doddled on his guitar.
From there Natalie learnt some basic guitar chords and the husband-wife team were soon writing and singing together as the Wayward Henrys.
While Cold Love focused on a dark alt-country sound, Apple & Pride is lighter.
“I’ve just had a massive break up so country is always going to be a little bit sad, but the sound of my songs are a lot brighter,” she says. “Even though the words are sad, the sounds are energetic and bright and exciting. More pure like American country.”
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