Natasha Bedingfield brings pop sound to Summer Jam

British pop singer Natasha Bedingfield will be at the Altamont Fairgrounds on Saturday to headline F
Natasha Bedingfield
Natasha Bedingfield

The title of Natasha Bedingfield’s latest U.S. release, “Pocketful of Sunshine,” could very well describe the pop starlet herself.

The U.K. based singer, best known in the U.S. for her catchy 2005 pop hit “Unwritten,” was bubbly as can be while speaking on the phone from her tour bus. She also seemed a bit distracted, being driven between her latest gig in Baltimore and a record signing at a Verizon store. The tour, sponsored by Verizon, is Bedingfield’s first U.S. headlining tour.

“It’s been so great, you know, to be in the driver’s seat, you know,” Bedingfield said. “And my band is so amazing, they really bring the music to another level.”

She’ll be at the Altamont Fairgrounds on Saturday for Fly 92.3 F.M.’s Fly Summer Jam festival. The all-day event, beginning at 11 a.m., will also feature A Simple Plan, Coolio, Sum 41, Metro Station, Blake Lewis, Ferras, Kate Voegele, C+C Music Factory and American Idol’s Ace Young.

Changing focus

This is Fly 92.3’s first Summer Jam festival in about 10 years, although the station has held festivals such as Summer Fling and Parkfest in recent years. According to the station’s music director and afternoon host, Marissa Lanchak, the station has changed some of its focus and audience since its last Summer Jam festival. Coolio and C&C Music Factory are the two “veteran” acts in the festival’s lineup, which otherwise is made up of either currently popular artists, such as Bedingfield, or up-and-coming acts such as Voegele and Young.

FLY Summer Jam

With: Natasha Bedingfield, A Simple Plan, Coolio, Sum 41, Metro Station, Blake Lewis, Ferras, Kate Voegele, C+C Music Factory, American Idol’s Ace Young

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Altamont Fairgrounds, Altamont.

How much: $28; $5 parking

More info: 800-514-3849 or www.fly92.com.

“About a decade ago, it was more for the 21-and-older crowd,” Lanchak said. “We’re more of a family-oriented station now. So we have a lot of different acts, some throwback acts as well, something for the parents and something for the kids as well.”

Bedingfield’s appearance at Summer Jam is representative of the new vanguard of British pop that has been infiltrating U.S. airwaves in recent years, with such artists as Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. However, Bedingfield’s sound is poppier than Allen’s, and her image is a bit more squeaky-clean than the notoriously rough-and-tumble Winehouse.

Bedingfield grew up in London, although she was originally from New Zealand. One of her earliest forays into music was a pop vocal group with her younger siblings, Daniel and Nicola.

“It wasn’t a professional thing,” Bedingfield said. “I had a few bands. I would get in a band — that’s the best way to learn how to do music. I grew up in church, and London is also a very musical place to grow up.”

Her brother Daniel has had a pop hit of his own with 2002’s “Gotta Get Thru This.” Bedingfield’s own big break came with her debut album, “Unwritten,” released in 2004 in the U.K. and 2005 in the U.S. The record spawned the singles “These Words (I Love You, I Love You)” and “Single,” and the ubiquitous U.S. hit “Unwritten.”

Her second album, “N.B.,” was never released in the U.S. “Pocketful of Sunshine,” released in the U.S. this year, combines seven tracks from “N.B.” and six new cuts, including the new single of the same name and another single, “Love Like This.”

Conspicuously absent from the U.S. album is “I Wanna Have Your Babies,” which became a hit as a single in Britain in 2007, but which flopped in the U.S. Although it might seem that her U.S. label, Epic, was behind the shuffling of album tracks for “Pocketful of Sunshine,” Bedingfield said the real reason was to release new songs she had been writing since “N.B.’s” release.

“Well, I write all the time, so I like to, I want to keep people up to date with what’s the best music I have,” Bedingfield said. “I released the album in Europe, but when I came back to America, I had already written new songs. So I released the new songs. It’s cool; there’s two different versions.”

Bedingfield will still be performing the material from “Unwritten,” but said she is excited about performing the new material.

“I like the new songs, because they’re simple and they’re soulful — they’re really fun,” Bedingfield said. “But the thing is, actually, they have a lot of meaning for me, like [the song] ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ really has a lot of meaning in it.”

The album chronicles her experiences since her debut was released. While “Unwritten’s” songs focused on Bedingfield’s independence, many of the lyrics on “Pocketful of Sunshine” discuss relationships and meeting romantic partners.

“Rather than the first album, which was just getting started, this one is more about things that have happened; the ups and downs, meeting people, that kind of stuff,” Bedingfield said.

Seeing America

Her headlining U.S. tour began in March this year. She said it has been “fun to see America by bus.”

“You do a gig, then hop in the bus,” Bedingfield said. “When you wake up, you’re in a different state, and it’s another gig. It’s great, and in the downtime, I get to go out and see different places. I get to see parts of America that most Americans don’t see.”

Bedingfield works with numerous philanthropic causes, most notably Global Angels, which was founded by Bedingfield’s mother, Molly, and raises money for underprivileged children in Africa and Asia. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, she has been most inspired by her visit to New Orleans on her current tour.

“New Orleans is amazing. It’s really incredible; the French quarter is really beautiful,” Bedingfield said. “And with all the challenges the city has gone through recently, I found that really inspiring.”

Categories: Life and Arts

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