DANBURY, Conn. — Angelo Natalie, Connecticut resident and mastermind behind dozens of songs "Barney and Friends" would sing to children of the '90s, has completed his college classes to earn a bachelor's at Western Connecticut State University.
Natalie, 71 of Stamford, picked up his progress in pursuing a bachelor's after about a 50-year hiatus.
“This degree is the completion of something I started in 1970," Natalie said.
He started his college education at Edinboro State College near Erie, Pa. before dropping out to get married and work in the music industry, and eventually write songs for PBS's "Barney and Friends".
He picked school back up in 2018, auditioning for WCSU's music program. Now, Natalie will be graduating with the class of 2023 with a Bachelor of Music in Audio and Music Production.
While Natalie established a career without a degree, he said "it was time" to go back and finish what he started.
“I’ve done audio music production my entire adult life, but by the seat of my pants,” Natalie said. "Now, with the arranging, music theory, audio and other classes I’ve taken at WCSU, I feel more equipped to produce my own material than I ever have.”
Of course, Natalie has just days to finish his capstone projects: A five-song EP in the Contemporary Christian Worship genre, and a “Designing Your Life” class.
“Musicians don’t retire, they die. I just keep on learning new things. Not for a single day have I walked away from my classes here without learning something of value. When you stop learning, you start declining. With my amazing professors at WCSU, I have learned so much. I’m sincerely grateful to them.”
After dropping out in the 1970s, Natalie worked in the "blossoming" genre of faith-based music, then went to work for a Nashville studio that produced national commercials and jingles, including for companies like Dodge, Pepsi, Pizza Hut and the Cabbage Patch Kids.
He also composed the theme package for the A&E, which Natalie considers his big break.
Most notable is PBS hiring Natalie to write for "Barney and Friends" in the 1990s. Experts on a fan-curated "Barney" Wiki page compiled a list of songs Natalie wrote for the show.
Natalie also contributed over 30 songs to another children's show, "Boz the Green Bear Next Door."
Back in Connecticut, Natalie has worked as the music director for Living Hope Community Church in Old Greenwich for the past three decades while giving private music lessons.
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