Natalie Baker Shirer is internationally recognized as a leading authority on American English Speech. Working with the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Hewlett-Packard and Lumina, Natalie developed the American English Speech Course, which is used by the School of Drama and the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, by Stanford University and by over 20,000 students, Baker Shirer, Professor Emeritus, Voice and Speech, Carnegie Mellon University, School of Drama, was Associate Professor of Speech and Phonetics, Dialects, Accents and Voice 1993-2016, granted tenure in 2001 and awarded the William H. and Frances B. Ryan Award for Meritorious Teaching at CMU in May 2001. Other teaching credits include American English Dialect for PHD candidates in Carnegie Mellon Graduate Theatre Program (including Harvard University and MXAT), and University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University Drama Department. As an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, BFA Acting, she studied speech and phonetics with her mentor Edith W. Skinner. Natalie also earned an MFA in Theatre Pedagogy while teaching in the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate Theatre the University of Pittsburgh in 1991.
Natalie’s professional career began at nine when she first danced for Pittsburgh’s Civic Light Opera. At thirteen, she had her own weekly television program on PBS “BALLET FOR YOU” and continued to be a member of Pittsburgh’s Opera’s Ballet Company lead by Frederic Franklin. She was named “Star of Tomorrow” by Jule Styne when she performed in his Broadway musical, SOMETHING MORE with Barbara Cook. Other roles include: Maria in Michael Bennett’s National Tour of WEST SIDE STORY with Christopher Walken, Louise in GYSPY 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 credits include a recurring role on MISTEROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD, an Emmy for voicing the INSIDE STORY. She has also narrated audiobooks and the video games series: RIPPER with Christopher Walken, HELL with Dennis Hopper. She played Tris Trilby in SPIDERMAN and in THE SINISTER SIX with Burgess Meredith
With a passionate interest in outreach, Natalie created The My True Voice Project in partnership with the Extra Mile Education Foundation. The program teaches pronunciation and poetry to underserved middle school children to encourage clarity of speech and confidence. It has reached students in the Pittsburgh-Ohio-West Virginia, area with CMU Drama students as mentors. Another outreach committment has been Natalie’s audio narration for the sight impaired patrons of Pittsburgh Opera 2005-20016 for 57 operas.