Natalie Baker Shirer is Internationally Recognized as a leading authority on American English Speech.
It All Started When
she first danced at the age of nine for Pittsburgh’s Civic Light Opera’s production of Babes in Toyland. At thirteen, she had her own weekly television program WQED PBS’ BALLET FOR YOU. She danced as a member of Pittsburgh’s Opera’s Ballet Company, under the direction of Frederic Franklin, for several years before beginning her training at Carnegie Mellon University, School of Drama. As a student at CMU, she had the life changing opportunity to be trained in speech and phonetics by her mentor Edith W. Skinner.
During the summers, away from the university, she performed in leading roles in summer stock, beginning with Casa Manana Theatre in Fort. Worth, Texas After graduating CMU, she was soon performing on Broadway, in the musical, SOMETHING MORE with Barbara Cook, directed by Jule Styne, who named Natalie, the “Star of Tomorrow.” Other roles include: Maria in Michael Bennett’s National Tour of WEST SIDE STORY with Christopher Walken, Louise in GYPSY with Jaye P. Morgan, Julie in CAROUSEL, Rosemary in HOW TO SUCCEED, Luisa in THE FANTASTICKS in tours throughout the United States and Canada.
Television & Radio
After starting a family and settling back in Pittsburgh, Natalie began a twenty year career, as a spokesperson for companies and corporations across the country (national and regional.) During this time, she also won an Emmy for voicing the INSIDE STORY and had a recurring role on MISTEROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD. She made appearances on Wayne & Shuster comedy specials which ran on CBC Canada, and also narrated audio books and the video game series: RIPPER with Christopher Walken, HELL with Dennis Hopper. She played Tris Trilby in SPIDER MAN and in THE SINISTER SIX with Burgess Meredith.
In 1992, Natalie was invited to teach Speech and Phonetics at her alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, by the head of the school, Elisabeth Orion. She became a full time Associate Professor of Speech and Phonetics, Dialects, Accents, and Voice at CMU’s School of Drama, where she served for 24 years (1993-2016.) Natalie Baker Shirer was granted tenure in 2001 and was awarded the William H. and Frances B. Ryan Award for Meritorious Teaching at CMU that same year.
In addition to Speech, Dialects and Accents, she introduced two new courses at CMU: Voice over Acting and My True Voice, the latter being an outreach voice and speech program for underprivileged middle school students in the Pittsburgh area. Natalie’s CMU drama students served as mentors for the children.
For information about Natalie Baker Shirer community outreach program, My True Voice, click here.
Baker Shirer also developed the interactive online course, American English Speech for the Open Learning Initiative, (OLI,) at Carnegie Mellon University. The course was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Hewlett-Packard and Lumina. To date, Natalie’s American English Speech OLI course has been used by nearly 30,000 students around the world, as well as Carnegie Mellon University and by Stanford University. Other teaching credits include American English Speech Dialect for PHD candidates in Carnegie Mellon Graduate Theater Program at Harvard University and MXAT, the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University Drama Departments.
For information about OLI click here.
Natalie Baker-Shirer is now Professor Emeritus, Voice and Speech, Carnegie Mellon University, School of Drama. Natalie Baker Shirer has coached hundreds of actors over the last 25 years. She continues to coach privately, as well as for theatrical, film and television productions around the country. She works both in person and by SKYPE.
For a list of theatre & film productions Natalie has coached, as well as a partial list of former students, click here.
For information about booking Baker Shirer, click here.