By DJ Hosley
Lizzy Marquis was born to play music. Or maybe she was born in music, the same way her stories and experiences are born in her songs. Her world has always been and will always be a world of music.
Growing up under her father, professional musician Mark Marquis, Lizzy has been around music her whole 20-year life. As a child, she was always in the music room installed in her house, watching her father and his friends play music late at night until her mother insisted that she had to go to bed.
“Just one more song,” Lizzy would say.
Or when Mark had a live concert, Lizzy would stand on the side admiring the musicians while strumming her toy guitar and manipulating her low-tech tape recorder so that she could re-listen to the songs over and over again.
When she wrote her first song, she walked up to her father, with the serious expression of a businesswoman and said, “Dad. I wrote a song.”
He may have chuckled at the sight of it, but Mark could tell his daughter was proud and determined. They worked on the song together, and she performed it at his Christmas concert that year while he was right beside her playing piano. At that same show she sang “Silent Night”.
Lizzy was only six years old; she was so short she had to stand on a crate to reach the microphone. But she loved it, and singing her first solo at a live show made her want to learn more.
When she was eight, she began receiving piano lessons from Anne-Marie Koivu who is still one of her best friends today. Music always came easier to her than it did to most kids; it was always much more to her than just a hobby.
She’d practice in the music room, mostly by herself, sharpening her piano skills. Other times she’d challenge herself to learn new songs with her father, absorbing any advice he had for her.
As Mark recounts, when Lizzy was 13, she went up to him and said boldly, “Dad. I want to play my own gig.”
“Really? You do?,” answered Mark. “Well, alright, what do you have for material?”
She didn’t have enough material to play her own solo gig. But she just took it as another challenge.
And sure enough, at 14, Lizzy played her first professional solo gig at Lidio’s Restaurant in Leominster. Right after that, she started getting booked regularly to play at several different venues.
While continuing on her own path, she also practiced through the Leominster High School Jazz Band for all four years of high school. In 2013, she won the Superior Musicianship Award, the highest award presented at the High School Jazz Festival hosted by Berklee’s College of Music. She was 17.
After high school, Lizzy attended the University of Southern Maine for a few semesters before eventually deciding that she wanted to go on her own path – a different path – that consisted of studying music under her own terms. She wanted to study and learn music while also using the extra time and space to work on her own material.
Today Mark can’t tell his daughter that she doesn’t have enough material. She has enough original music and has learned to cover enough classics to fill a day, and then some. And she’s still working on more. In 2016, she has begun exploring ideas for her first original project.
In the meantime, she’s around. On weekdays, she’s writing, practicing, and teaching piano and vocal lessons. Just about every weekend she plays one or two gigs, either by herself, with a band, or with The Mark Marquis Group.
From the days when she was just a young girl admiring her father and his band in the music room, Lizzy’s dream had always been to play music as a profession. Today that dream still exists, but she’s living it. While she’s grown as a musician and as a person, her dreams have grown with her.
She spends every day working to fulfill her new dream – to keep getting better as a musician while creating music that will reach people.
This Saturday, April 16th, at 8pm, Lizzy will be performing live as part an annual show put on by The Mark Marquis Group at the Bull Run Restaurant in Shirley, MA. Tickets are $15. The following Saturday, April 23rd, Lizzy will be playing a solo gig at Happy Jack’s Restaurant in Leominster, MA. Attendance is free.