Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Lizzie Marvelly: More than just a singer

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As Lizzie Marvelly celebrates 10 years in the music industry the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend caught up with the singer, performer, writer and feminist before she arrived in Tauranga to perform as part of her 10 Years Tour.
Singer-songwriter, and columnist, Lizzie Marvelly is coming to Tauranga as part of her 10 Years Tour. Photo/file
Singer-songwriter, and columnist, Lizzie Marvelly is coming to Tauranga as part of her 10 Years Tour. Photo/file

Lizzie Marvelly hit the road when she was 16 - touring the world as a singer and songwriter. Ten years later she's back on the road - this time touring New Zealand in celebration of a decade in the music industry.

In between performing at the Sydney Opera House at age 19, releasing two albums and singing the national anthem at the Rugby World Cup final in 2011 Lizzie has become a female force to be reckoned with.

The Rotorua-born star was buoyed by the belief of "girl power" and has morphed into a refreshing young female voice in mainstream media.

"Some people find it hard to understand that I can do more than just sing," said Marvelly, who has a double degree in English and psychology.

Last year Marvelly launched Villainesse.com, a media project aimed to be a "no-filter" media platform for young people, and which already launched a major campaign called #MyBodyMyTerms.

It sparked conversation about sex, victim-blaming, revenge porn, consent and sexual violence.

Marvelly also became a regular columnist for the New Zealand Herald and Rotorua Daily Post.

"I often get people telling me 'go back to singing'. It's sometimes shocking to people that I can have an opinion, be able to write and sing," she said, speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend during a spare moment in her hectic life.

"I had a few former fans who used to love me signing the anthem, but now because they disagree with my opinions they mute the anthem when it comes on," she said.

On the other hand she had many fans who loved her singing and have been further inspired by her writing.

I often get people telling me 'go back to singing'. It's sometimes shocking to people that I can have an opinion, be able to write and sing.
Lizzie Marvelly

Marvelly said she wanted to show young women that they could be and do more than one thing.

"I refuse to fit in anyone's box. You can be more than what people expect you to be, but you have to be who you are."

Lizzie Marvelly is marking a decade in the music business. Photo/supplied
Lizzie Marvelly is marking a decade in the music business. Photo/supplied

Coming into her own has not come without a fair share of hostility towards her.

"I wasn't prepared for the wave of backlash that started coming my way when I started writing for the Herald. It's taken a lot of getting used to but after learning to deal with it I now feel like I have a much thicker skin."

Young female voices aren't often heard in the media so I feel like on some issues, especially those that affect women, I feel a sense of duty to continue talking about them.
Lizzie Marvelly

Getting called a whore, slut, or being told she "should be raped and die" was something Marvelly faced after voicing her thoughts and opinions.

"A lot of it is really gendered, people being patronising to me with the gist of 'don't you worry your pretty little head'."

But she was worried - particularly about the state of gender equality in our country - and she would not be scared off by a handful of haters.

"Young female voices aren't often heard in the media so I feel like on some issues, especially those that affect women, I feel a sense of duty to continue talking about them even though I end up with my head handed to me on a platter regularly."

She said she wanted to encourage everyone to have a voice - especially young women.

"In New Zealand sexual and domestic statistics are really bad. They stem from misogyny and need to be addressed in this country. I mean we don't even have compulsory consent training which is staggering," Marvelly said, her passion for social issues showing in her voice.

"There are also no female CEOs in our top 50 companies. We have all these amazing women but for some reason they are not smashing through that glass ceiling to get to those top positions."

Writing an opinion column was polarising by nature but Marvelly tried to keep her music and her writing separate.

"I write songs about issues but that's a creative endeavour whereas the column is a reasoned argument ... they're sort of separate but it's still me, I'm still the same person."

Marvelly has had a hectic year - "I never get bored but I also don't do much sleeping," she said, laughing.

Planning the 10 Years Tour had given her the chance to reflect on her musical journey.

"I never really looked back, you just don't when you're living your life."

She remembered being gobsmacked about performing in the Sydney Opera House as a 19-year-old.

Singing at the Royal Albert Hall was another "mind-blowing" moment but she was so excited she did not process all the memories, and years on the whole experience was "a real blur".

Tauranga will be Marvelly's last show and she said she had been having a lot of fun on tour.

"It's funny because when you start doing all sorts of other things you forget how much fun it is being out there on stage.

"The thing I've really loved on this tour is I've been able to sing some really old favourites and just seeing the joy on people's faces when I'm out with the crowd signing albums after is just really satisfying and fulfilling."

The show would include songs from early in her career to a single she released last year with New Zealand artist P Money and some new songs not yet recorded or released.

A "national treasure"


- In late 2006 Sir Howard Morrison and Dame Malvina Major introduced teenage Lizzie Marvelly to the country
- Marvelly's musical career includes two top-10 albums, a top-15 pop debut, European tours, performances in Asia and Australia and countless national anthems

What: Lizzie Marvelly - The 10 Years Tour
Where: Baycourt
When: Wednesday, October 12, 7.30pm-10pm
Tickets: Ph 0800 842 538.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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