Natalie Aroyan always wanted to be a pop singer. Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Bette Midler formed the soundtrack to her early years, and from the age of three the microphone became an alluring object.

Natalie AroyanNatalie Aroyan. Photo © James Heron

Growing up in Sydney’s tight-knit Armenian-Australian community, she spent Sundays singing in church, often front and centre, and was given solos from the age of eight. Her parents were entirely supportive of their little girl’s dreams but encouraged her to get a university degree in something practical first. Aroyan, seeing the sense in this, did so, but her heart remained set on a pop career.

That all changed when she was 19. Accompanying her parents to a concert given by Armenian mezzo-soprano Liliya Ovchiyan, Aroyan was completely bowled over by the sheer power of her unamplified voice. She had never been to the opera before, had had zero interest in classical singing before this moment, but Ovchiyan’s vocal command was unquestionable. This woman just had to teach her how to sing, and then she would surely be the best pop singer in the world.
So Aroyan sang for her, hoping to convince...