Singer/songwriter Marli Harwood suffered several record company setbacks before earning her big break six months after packing in her musical ambitions.
Born Marilena Buck in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, the half-Italian/half-Welsh vocalist first attended Blackpool Performing Arts college before securing a place at the Guildford School of Acting. As a teen, she signed to Island Records, but her debut album went unreleased, as did her second, recorded in the U.S. for Richard Branson's V2 label. After working with Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan in New York, she took on various jobs, including working at a hospital for eating disorders, in order to fund her musical ambitions. She auditioned for the first series of Fame Academy in 2002, where she made it through to the live stages, but despite being eliminated in the fifth week, she was offered a record contract by Sony. Yet again, her album, produced by future husband Michael Harwood, never saw the light of the day, a fate which also awaited two later albums recorded with small independent labels. Frustrated by the constant setbacks, she decided to abandon her dreams to start a family, but in 2010, the head of Radio 2, Jeff Smith, heard her track "It's Called a Heart" and made her the second unsigned artist to be awarded the Single of the Week (Lisa Loeb had gained that distinction for her single "Stay (I Miss You)" in 1994.) ~ Jon O'Brien