Safford Library’ Early Literacy Concert Series features bilingual songs and stories of Nathalia!

Nathalia! performs her opening song for Safford and Bonita kindergarteners through second graders Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at the David M. Player Center for the Arts. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — Nathalia Palis has been writing songs for years, using music therapy to help children in preschool and in the hospital. But it wasn’t until the birth of her second child in 2011 that she decided to take her music to the next level.

Nathlia! has brought her bilingual signing and storytelling to the Gila Valley for three days of performances at the David M. Player Center for the Arts. Tuesday she performed for kindergarteners through second graders from Bonita and Safford schools, and Wednesday will see her perform for K-2 students from Thatcher, Pima, Fort Thomas, Solomon and homeschoolers.

On Thursday, she will perform a free community concert for children 0-5 and their caregivers. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and seating is first come, first served.

“What I always want to do is bridge. Bridge language, English and Spanish; bridge cultures, the Latin culture and American culture,” Nathalia said. “I live in this country, I love this country but I also love where I come from. I want kids to be proud of where they come from or their families’ heritage, and I want parents to be proud of passing down their culture to their kids.”

Nathalia, originally from Columbia but now based in Los Angeles with her family, has released five albums — “From Here to There,” “Dream a Little,” “When I was Your Age,” “En la Radio,” and “Mil Colores” — and has written her first book, “Los Mas Pequenos,” which she will debut at Thursday’s performance and be given free to children while supplies last.

“I’ve gone to places where none of my audience is Spanish speaking (but) they’re attentive and they’re trying to pick up on the words,” she said. “Kiddos will come afterwards and say, ‘I learned a word, I learned a word!’ And it’s so exciting; it’s exciting to learn something new.”

In addition to her performances, Nathalia will also conduct a workshop for area teachers.

Nathalia’s performances are part of the Safford City-Graham County Library’s 2024 Early Literacy Concert Series. It is sponsored by United Way of Graham and Greenlee Counties, Gila Valley Arts Council, First Things First, Friends of the Library, and the School Superintendents for Graham and Greenlee Counties.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:07 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, 2024, to correct the sponsorship to the School Superintendents for Graham and Greenlee counties.