‘Love is like timing in music,’ says Natalie after her wedding

2014-04-14 00:00

LIKE a composer in search of an elusive lyric, drummer Bruce Baker was determined to get singer-songwriter Natalie Rungan to go on a date him.

That determination was rewarded last month when the Durban-based jazz and RnB star married him at an intimate venue in the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

The couple first met through mutual friends in the jazz group Tonk, which Baker joined in 1999. He went on to become one of Rungan’s session drummers and then took on the percussion role full-time in her band.

“Bruce has been working with me for the past five years, then … you tell it,” Rungan said.

Smiling, her husband takes up the story, “Then, a little over three years ago, I noticed Natalie in a different light. It was the start of a journey to catch her and convince her to go out with me.”

Rungan grins, “I was very difficult … I feel really bad now that I made him work so long and so hard. At the time, though, I just wasn’t interested in dating a musician. I think I may have entertained the idea for about a week … but I said ‘no’ because I knew if we dated, then things would change and if something went wrong, I would lose an amazing drummer.”

“I understood, but I didn’t give up,” Baker, a Maritzburg College Old Boy, said.

It was while the couple were on tour to promote Rungan’s second album, Natalie — This is Me, that their relationship took a romantic turn.

“We were staying in an apartment and Bruce was across the room. He looked over and I smiled, and for the first time I thought, ‘I wonder …’,” Rungan said.

A few months later, she agreed to go on a date to see German drummer Benny Greb who was hosting a workshop.

“In the middle of the workshop, Bruce held my hand and for me, time stopped, the music stopped. I knew then that something was happening — on a physical and an emotional level,” the singer said. “I really believe that love is like timing in music — you’re either in or you’re out.”

Baker and Rungan dated for two and a half years before tying the knot in a private wedding at Intaba View in Drummond.

“We only had about 92 people at the wedding — just family and very close friends,” said Rungan.

The couple said Rungan surprised many people by her relaxed demeanour.

“I think a lot of people expected me to be ‘bridezilla’ … but marriage is such a big decision and if you have made a decision that this person is the one who you want to spend the rest of your life with, then I think you will be calm,” Rungan said, adding that their shared Christian faith provided them with a connection that overrode issues like race or culture.

After the wedding ceremony, during which close friend and keyboardist Mark Royeppen, and another good friend, Burton Naidoo, played music for the guests and the newlyweds at the reception.

A week-long honeymoon in Cape Town followed, but since returning home to Durban, the couple have been hard at work, gigging around the city and promoting Rungan’s new album, Heart Aflame, which was launched at the Durban Jewish Centre on March 20.

The singer will also be performing in the KwaZulu-Natal’s Mother’s Day Concert and is hosting her new “Up Close and Personal” concerts at the Durban Jewish Centre once a month.

She, Baker and the rest of the band will also be heading to Port Elizabeth to perform and conduct workshops, and they are working on plans to do a tour of Europe if they can source sponsorship.

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