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From Nathanael Barlow’s years of singing at the New Covenant Church of Philadelphia as a child, friends and family knew the Philadelphia native was a rare talent. Now 16, the budding community activist and volunteer has achieved an even rarer accomplishment: He’s a semifinalist for the legendary Showtime at the Apollo talent competition.
Barlow’s voice has carried him through the contest with a trio of stops at the Apollo and into a semifinal spot in the competition this year.
Calling Barlow’s voice a “healing hug from the soul,” Barlow’s various vocal coaches recounted his immense stage presence, and say he’s reminiscent of an “old, kind soul” akin to legends like Donnie Hathaway and Luther Vandross.
But in describing the 11th grader’s voice, sometimes the father knows best.
“Nate sings — and lives — with such grace and passion. Like the great Paul Robeson, he is truly a renaissance man,” says Omar Barlow, Nathanael’s father. “Our family and community are extremely proud of him.”
Nathanael Barlow performing live at venues in Philadelphia (Courtesy of Janeen Nicole Winters Barlow)
The youngest of three children, Nathanael Barlow shared that he finds inspiration for his singing style from various artists, including Donny Hathaway, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, and Lisa Fischer.
Barlow’s family and friends recognized his talent when he was a young boy, encouraging him to further shape his abilities.
Omar Barlow and Janeen Nicole Winters Barlow are Nathanael’s parents and education consultants for their family-owned company, Barlow Enterprises. Omar Barlow notes the integral community support that has contributed to his son’s growth, from the Philadelphia Clef Club to the family’s place of worship, the New Covenant Church of Philadelphia.