From time to time, a singer comes along with an amazing ability to transform the way we look at love and life. Singer/songwriter MaryAnne Marino is such an artist. The first time I heard her perform I sat transfixed, and realized that I was witnessing an upcoming national sensation. A young singer destined for greatness, Marino has the hypnotic ability to lure listeners into the moment through lyrics that portray love and emotional vulnerability. She started singing in a band at age 15, made important industry connections and gained a following in New York, and has performed at numerous large venues in front of sold out audiences.
As many famous musicians were drawn early on in their careers to the “City That Care Forgot,” Marino recently decided to make Louisiana her home, having moved from her native New York to New Orleans after getting married last year to a Crescent City native. She was recorded live after being “discovered” by a local network and the show airs in August.
Marino says she is dedicated to “rebuilding New Orleans” with her husband who owns a business here. Although the city is much smaller than her native New York, she likes the “laid-back Caribbean vibe” of her adopted home town. Marino left her full band back in New York but flies in various members depending on the gig she is playing. Most recently in New Orleans, a few thousand gathered to hear Marino and band members perform in Lafayette Park. Crowds rose to their feet during her sultry, sexy rendition of the beloved classic “Nine to Five” as TV cameras clamored for space near the stage.
With the voice of an angel, Marino’s soulful original songs call to mind several acclaimed artists. Her moving melodies and mesmerizing voice at once draw the listener into the spell she casts with her gentle charisma. Marino’s style veers from Joni Mitchell balladry to the lilting lullabies of Nora Jones, and the resonance of Sarah McLaughlin, with nuances of folk rock and alternative pop for added spice.
On the heels of her full length CD entitled “Ghost of You” and following performances to large audiences in New York and Los Angeles, Marino says she is ready to settle down in New Orleans and concentrate on a more “organic” sound here. “It doesn’t have to be a constant hustle and bustle,” she notes. Marino was a regular at various New York hot spots including the Living Room, where she became acquainted with Nora Jones.
Her recently released, unforgettable EP entitled “A Little Something” showcases Marino’s amazing ability to enchant and inspire. She is currently at work on new material that she plans to incorporate into a new album slated for later this year.
I understand that you recently composed a song entitled “Elphaba” that will be aired on TV in August. What is it about?
My song “Elphaba” was inspired by the book “Wicked.” The Broadway show “Wicked” is on tour and it will be coming to New Orleans in October. Elphaba is the wicked witch. The song has a bit of humor with a tinge of sadness. I am empathizing with the character. She has some really beautiful sides to her that people don’t get to see. I think that is true in life in general. Sometimes we are quick to judge.
What musicians do you enjoy hearing in New Orleans?
It’s pretty cool to see Marcia Ball perform and also Chris Thomas King, a blues musician. He performed in “O Brother Where Art Thou.” I also love the Jazz Festival and I got to see Neil Young perform this year.
What are some of your favorite places to eat in Louisiana?
I like Crepe Nanou for the whole redfish, Vincent’s for the veal Parmesan, Five Happiness for the general’s fried chicken, Boca for the great skirt steaks, and the pink peppermint pie ice cream at Creole Creamery. In Lafayette, I like the great seafood and Cajun dancing at Randol’s.
Do you have a favorite Louisiana cocktail?
When I moved to New Orleans I was absolutely fascinated at discovering drive-through daiquiri stands. I just couldn’t believe you could do that, just like ordering fast food! That was my first obsession with a drink here, the banana daiquiri.
If you could have one last meal in Louisiana, what would it be?
I would make a few rounds. I would get fried oysters from Rambla, crab claws from Lilette, the French fries from Luke’s, the whole fish from Crepe Nanou, and a bite of ice cream at Creole Creamery. Food has become my passion in New Orleans!