Natalie Closner Schepman

Musician in the band Joseph

Portland, Oregon

Class of 2009, Music major


Before she was singing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with her band, Joseph, Natalie Closner Schepman was hesitant to admit her ambitions as a musician. After graduating, she says she struggled with her identity with not being a student anymore. She worked as a barista, dreading questions about who she was and what she did.

“The term singer/songwriter embarrassed me because I wondered, ‘Who am I to think I can do that?’”, she says. But her dad kept telling her, “If you don’t do it, someone else will. Why not you?”

This advice gave Schepman the motivation she needed as she pursued her music dreams. Fast-forward to today: The band she started with her sisters, Allison and Meegan Closner, just released their debut record, I’m Alone, No You’re Not, via Dave Matthews’ ATO Records. It was featured on NPR’s First Listen, and Schepman and her sisters are currently touring internationally in support of the album.

It wasn’t without encouragement that she got there. Alongside her father’s wisdom, she remembers how Associate Professors of Music Stephen Newby and Carlene Brown motivated her.

“Time and time again, they trusted me with opportunities I didn’t feel qualified for,” she recalls. “It happened with solos, performances, student leadership, and even final exams that felt impossible. but they never showed any doubt in my ability. They seemed to know I could do it even when I wasn’t sure. They believed in me so I learned to believe in myself.”

Performing with confidence, she has found the exchange between herself as a musician and the people listening has become one of the most meaningful parts of her career.

— Dusty Henry

With a background in music, Schepman is in the band Joseph with her sisters Meegan and Allie. Through that, Schepman says they get to be communicators, putting their thoughts and feelings to song and sharing that with people.

How does your time at SPU connect to what you’re doing today?

SPU encouraged me to think beyond myself. It broadened my understanding of the world and showed me both how small my story was and also how much a small story can affect the bigger one.

Which SPU faculty or staff member made a difference in your education?

I often think back on the way Dr. Stephen Newby and Dr. Carlene Brown taught. Time and time again they trusted me with opportunities I didn’t feel qualified for. It happened with solos, performances, student leadership, and even final exams that felt impossible … But they never showed any doubt in my ability. They seemed to know I could do it even when I wasn’t sure. They believed in me so I learned to believe in myself.

What advice would you give to current SPU students?

“If you don’t do it someone else will. Why not you?”