Cinzia Spiteri is living proof something good can emerge from tragedy.
The 28-year-old was devastated by the death of her step-father but reacted in an unusual way.
She started singing. And now, three years down the line, she is making serious waves in the Blackpool entertainment scene.
As well as appearing in the Sound of Music at the Grand Theatre at the end of May, Cinzia has landed a summer season at one of the resort’s top venues after being spotted by none other than Joe Longthorne.
The success is well deserved for the Lytham Road girl, who has always been involved in music but had never previously sung.
Along with mum Lucia (who runs Highfield Road restaurant San Marco’s) and step-father Kevin, Cinzia was in the band Hi5, who, for years, were an integral part of the local scene.
They were a modern comedy showband, along the lines of The Grumbleweeds, and won awards for their shows. Self-taught on the bass and drums, Cinzia was an important member of the band.
But in 2009, after nine years performing together, tragedy occurred when Kevin died after developing an infection following a routine operation on his throat.
“It was an awful time and it got even worse a few months later when my mum - Cinzia’s grandmother – died of cancer. I threw in the towel, got really down, and have never been back on stage since. But my daughter’s way of dealing with it was to throw herself into singing, and something magical has happened since,” said Lucia, Cinzia’s mum.
“The strange thing is that I didn’t even know she could sing. She didn’t really sing when the band was going.
“One day she asked me to listen to a song she had done and I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it was her or where this fantastic, classical opera singer voice had come from because she is so shy.
“But having this voice made her believe in herself and some fantastic things have happened since.”
After hearing her sing, Joe Longthorne invited Cinzia to appear at his MBE celebration show before Christmas. That led to VIVA and Joe spotting her potential and booking her for its summer season (Cinzia is on every Sunday night – along with Longthorne and Leye D Johns – from May 26, and is also appearing on May 5).
“I couldn’t be more proud of her and it has inspired me to start living again too,” added Lucia.
“I’ll never sing again professionally – that is something my husband and I did. But it’s wonderful that Cinzia is doing what she’s doing and her step-father and grandma would have been so proud of her – it’s just a shame they’re not here to see it.”
Cinzia’s first appearance at VIVA is a one-off show on Sunday May 5, when Longthorne tops the bill. Ticket details on 01253 297297.
Charity See Saws, which helps children with disabilities and their families, is holding a fundraising event on Friday. The bash takes place at the Catholic Club on Queen Street and is hosted by entertainer Mark Michaels. Dene Michael (Black Lace) tops the bill, but the likes of Tracey Jordan, David Wainwright, Rhys Alexander and Tony Just are also performing. Entry is by £2.50 donation. More information at firstname.lastname@example.org