THEY say good things come to those who wait. And Lytham-born singer Marli Harwood would certainly be the first to agree.
After 15 years of trying to get her big break in the music industry, the 36-year-old was ready to give up, forget her dreams and pack it all in.
And it was just at that moment that she had double good news.
Not only did she find out she was pregnant – and due to give birth in August – the former St Bedes High School pupil’s song ‘It’s Called A Heart’ hit all the right notes and was played as Radio 2’s Single of the Week.
And Heart FM chose the song to soundtrack its ‘Have a Heart’ campaign.
Now she has released her debut album Clocks and Full Stops, co-produced by her husband Michael.
Marli said: “It was kind of bittersweet.
“At last the offers were coming, things were going somewhere, but I knew I was pregnant and in this industry, which is so focused on looks, I didn’t know what would happen next.
“I had been working so long to try to get somewhere in the industry and had really just reached the point where after 15 years, I thought it was never going to happen.
“I had just given up and then I got a phone call to tell me my song had been picked for the record of the week on Radio Two and I burst into tears.
“I couldn’t believe it.
“And then I heard my song being played on the radio while I was driving – and had not long passed my test – I burst into tears again and had to pull over.
“Now I just feel blessed and so lucky, it’s been my dream to have a music career and a family.”
It’s been a long, hard slog for Marli – born Marliena Buck to parents Brian and Elena Buck, of Bromley Road, St Annes.
Her musical rollercoaster began in 1995 with two spontaneous showcases in New York. She signed to Island Records, the home of Bob Marley and U2 after a performance to the label’s legendary founder Chris Blackwell.
But he sold the company while her first album was being made and it was never released. In 1999 an album she recorded was shelved. In 1992, she made it through to the final six in the TV reality show Fame Academy.
She signed for Sony, but was then dropped in 1998. She recorded an album for a small record label her husband was working with, but again nothing came of it.
So in 2009 after all the disappointments, she gave up and started working as a mentor and voice coach.
But in 2010, the production company she was signed for listened to the album again and decided to release it.
And earlier this year, Marli made history for women in the music industry, by securing a maternity clause in her record deal.
In a first for women, a clause in her contract with Island Records stated she would work a maximum of 20 hours a week in the second trimester of her pregnancy and not at all after July 1.
She also negotiated a child-minding arrangement for the duration of the contract.
Marli, who now lives in London, said: “Labels previously haven’t wanted to release a new artists’ album if they were pregnant.
“But it’s not a stigma, it’s not most natural thing in the world.
That’s why I have my photo, of me pregnant, on the album cover.
“Pregnacy’s a beautiful thing and should be celebrated.”
And few are more excited about Marli’s first baby arriving than her parents Brian and Elena, who still live in St Annes.
She said: “They absolutely can’t wait – their first grandchild.
“We’re very close, I talk to them every day on the phone and try to visit as often as I can.
“I love St Annes and Lytham and don’t get to home as much as I would like.
“But when I do, I really love it. It’s so quiet compared to London and so beautiful.”
And Marli herself is looking forward to the special arrival.
“I am very excited, but I’m also a little bit terrified.
“You never really know what’s round the corner, but life always works out.”
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