Nate Hawkins, 18, plays his guitar with a nice, soft touch. His voice is filled with soul when he plays the familiar Stevie Wonder song Isn’t She Lovely. Stevie Wonder wrote this song to celebrate the birth of his daughter. Hawkins thinks about his little sister, who has been an inspiration for many of his own songs. His original songs will soon be released on his first album, Progression.
Hawkins graduated from Astoria High School in June 2017. He has been working to start his career in music. He feels that the time is right to pursue his longtime dream. “I hope that I can find people who relate to my music,” Hawkins says. The songs have become very personal, as he is sharing his thoughts through them. Hawkins has a reason to be thankful for how music has helped him to become who he is today. Some of his friends say he sounds like Coldplay in the early 2000s, or Bon Iver. Such a comparison flatters Hawkins, but mostly he wants to be known for his original songs.
Hawkins calls himself blessed to have people around who saw his musical talent in his early years. He was eight years old when his parents, together with some friends, got him a First Act drum kit. The kit was put to good use, as Hawkins played it as hard as he could.
A couple of years later he was given a keyboard by his Uncle Joe, then a guitar by another uncle, Ben. Hawkins started to play these instruments more seriously when he was 14 years old.
“When I was younger, I also tried some singing, but thought that I was not that good at it,” Hawkins recalls. Later, he found that music — including singing — was exactly what he wanted to do in his life.
Hawkins admits that he has never been good at learning musical notes, but rather has learned by ear. He has taught himself to play many different instruments. He now plays piano, acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele and some bass. He writes his own music, sings and mostly plays the acoustic guitar when performing. His style ranges from soft jazz to indie rock and blues.
“My original music is so-called ‘indie folk soundscape’ and frequently uses sample instruments that sound like wind and rain. I try to make it very peaceful. I think the best way to listen to it would be with headphones,” Hawkins explains.
His talent has always been obvious to his family and friends, and his teachers also saw that Hawkins had a special gift to share. Especially during high school, he found great support and developed his own style. “Mathew Pierce, my high school music teacher, was especially very encouraging and played a very big part in getting me interested in jazz,” Hawkins says. He is now trying to incorporate the feelings of jazz choral structures into every song he plays.
Healing Effects of Music
Music has been more than a hobby to Nate. It has helped him to overcome a condition that made him feel different amongs other kids. He was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when he was four years old. The syndrome affects the nervous system and causes involuntary movements or sounds, called “tics,” in people.
“I was a spastic child,” Hawkins laughs. “The condition made it hard to feel like a normal kid. Music was the rescue, something that gave me an outlet and helped me to get where I am today.” His family also saw how music helped him to focus on things other than his condition. Over the years the symptoms have lessened almost to the minimum.
Hawkins is presently taking online courses at Berklee College of Music. He wants to keep working on his music, playing at different occasions as opportunities come, either locally or elsewhere. Many have enjoyed listening to him playing at local restaurants and at a couple of music events in the past year.
The young musician has many plans. The first and most important is to get his debut album, Progression, released, which is scheduled to come out soon. The album’s release has taken longer than originally planned, but, in the process, the content and style has been defined for the better. It now includes only Hawkins’ original songs. He is also forming a band with many of his talented friends who would be helping with the shows.
Nate has been playing many of his songs at KMUN radio station and has received a very good response. He has also been able to use the KMUN studio to record his music. This was how he got the idea of making his own album. “It all started when Graham Nystrom, the recording technician of KMUN, came to a couple of high school open mic events and then invited a few of us to check out the recording studio. Eventually, I went and started recording some of my music, and the idea of making my own album got started. I am very thankful that Graham provided the gear, support and expertise,” Hawkins says. The recording project has since changed, and a good friend, Rick Morgan, has been helping as the main recording technician for the album.
Besides music, Hawkins loves all kinds of art, including painting and drawing. He also enjoys cooking. But, above all, music is his passion, and he is hoping that it will eventually become his career. “I feel like everyone’s dream really is to make well while doing what they are passionate about,” Hawkins says. “My goal is to make a living selling my music and performing. And, at the end, I would also like to be proud of my accomplishments with how far I have been able to come in life and music.”
The publicity and updates of Hawkins’ album release and upcoming concerts are posted on Nate Hawkins’ Instagram page.