Chester native finds musical inspiration and love in New Orleans, By Vicki Botta Chester New Orleans is a long way from home for MaryAnne Marino, but that is where the dark-eyed singer/songwriter calls home these days. Marino grew up in Chester, where as a child she felt safe and protected. But then she fell in love, married, and followed her heart back to her new husband’s hometown, and that has made all the difference. “New Orleans is centrally located between Los Angeles and New York, so I can fly to either place to do shows,” she said. She has also pursued different venues in New Orleans, but it is taking longer than she expected to get established there. Nonetheless, she said it is exciting to be in a place with such great cultural and musical influences. Before she met her husband, Marino was a teenage musical personality who started singing seriously at age 12. When she got into her first band at age 15, music became a passion for her. She began writing her own songs at age 17. At 20 she began recording for Lava Records a subsidiary of Atlantic Records and has 56 songs behind her. She studied jazz voice at the State University of New York at Purchase. As a member of November Project, formerly known as October Project, she discovered what it was like to be part of a band with such a strong following that they sold out their shows. The band recorded two CDs, and exposed her to a whole new music community. Now on her own after creative differences caused her to move in a different direction, she has two CDs of her own and is working on a third. Between shows and her coast-to-coast travels, she enjoys writing music. She gets most of her inspiration from her life experiences and from books that she has read. She recently wrote a song inspired by the character Elphaba from the book and play “Wicked”: “Elphaba Elphaba don’t be ashamed of your greenish skin or your funny name It’s better to be just a little strange than be like those merciless mortals.” Marino has played places such as the Living Room in the East Village of New York City and the Rockwood Music Hall. She is now writing songs for a CD to be produced in 2010, which will include her “Wicked”-inspired song. She feels she has grown a lot as an artist, and that her voice and her writing have developed over time. Initially, she relied more on other people’s opinions but is now taking over more of the process. “It has helped my music grow,” she said. She said she is striving for a “stripped down,” or less-produced sound, where the music is exposed more on its own merit rather than “constructed and clean” by means of a studio’s special technological effects. Her previous CD, titled “Ghost of You,” has lots of instrumental music that she says are so polished and neat. Now she is striving for less instrumental music and less “arranging,” allowing more of the song and her voice to show. People enjoy hearing more of her voice, which she feels got lost on “Ghost of You.” Marino’s new CD comes out in 2010. For more information, visit www.maryannemarino.com.