Description: Singer, songwriter, guitarist (finger-picking acoustic), cabaret performer and librettist. Occasional radio presenter. Independent. Musical collaborator. Has songs, will travel.
Genres: Blues, roots, alt-country, folk, gospel. Originals and alternative covers.
Style: Power-packed, soulful, raunchy, earthy, funny.
Line-ups: Solo, duo, trio and band (Marisa Quigley & Her Sunday Best).
Influences: Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, Etta James.
Collaborations: Chubby Rae & the Elevators; The Blue Yonder; The Gospel Belles; Begley, Butler & Quigley
Marisa Quigley is an award-winning Australian blues/roots singer and songwriter, solo artist, and cabaret performer. With her charismatic stage presence and powerhouse delivery, the husky-voiced chanteuse has drawn comparisons with Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt. Absolutely at home on the stage, Marisa captivates audiences from the moment she sashays forth from behind the curtain. She’s a statuesque, flame-haired beauty who radiates warmth, humour and earthiness.
A natural raconteur, irreverent wit and deft lyricist, she has audiences in stitches one minute, and moved to tears the next. Her songwriting influences are as diverse as Tom Waits and The Eagles, and her songs span the gamut from haunting to heartfelt to hilarious. With an eclectic blend of blues/roots and alt-country/folk, a wink and a nudge, a tickle and a poke, her act is soulful, fun, endearing—and highly entertaining.
This self-made songstress and tireless troubadour regularly criss-crosses Australia from her home in country Victoria, performing at intimate house concerts, dusty outdoor stages, packed town halls and famous festivals with a range of line-ups. Since 2008 Marisa has performed her original tunes in solo, duo, trio and band line-ups at festivals across the country from Uranquinty to Port Fairy, from Blues on Broadbeach to Adelaide River Music Muster, and from Katherine Country Music Muster to Yackandandah Folk Festival.
Forte music magazine has described her as “Possibly the blackest white woman since Janis Joplin”, and Triple J Roots & All presenter Sarah Howells has praised her live performances, saying, “Amazing voice. I’ve seen Marisa live a few times and she absolutely rocks it.”
Solo / originals
As a solo performer (finger-picking acoustic guitar and vocals) and songwriter, Marisa has released two studio albums and was a semi-finalist in the 2012 International Songwriting Competition. Her 2011 self-titled debut opened at No. 1 in the Blues & Roots Music: Australian Radio Charts and earned high praise from Brian Fraser, an award-winning and respected Australian blues/roots musician, who said: “In this, (her) first-class debut CD, Marisa has managed to weave her original material through various styles and moods, yet make it all fit neatly into one highly enjoyable package. The strength of any album is the quality of the songs, and this original album is one great song after another.”
Geoff Forbes, reviewing the CD for Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society Bluesletter, wrote: “Marisa is a blues singer who has soaked up the long tradition of female blues singers such as Bessie Smith, Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt. She wrote all the songs and she sings them all like they really mean something… you can’t beat that. There's a lot to like about this album—rich voice, engaging songs, variety of styles and instrumentation… and you can actually hear Marisa's personality in the songs.”
Her musical watershed came in 2007 with a decision to pack her life into ‘Bob’ the campervan and take off on an epic solo road trip. Starting in her then hometown of Geelong, she drove up the eastern coast of Australia and across the Top End, mostly camping at roadside stops and staying with friends along the way. Her two-year journey took her back to her roots in Darwin, where she stayed for nine months earning a living as a musician—writing songs, performing three to five solo shows a week, and crystallising her unique vocal style and stage presence. These songs formed the basis for her two solo CDs, Marisa Quigley and Gypsy’s Lament.
Marisa Quigley & Her Sunday Best
Since 2015, she has performed with Her Sunday Best; four experienced musicians who complement her sublime songs with a full instrumental sound and soaring harmonies. Her Sunday Best are Rudi Katterl (lead guitar), Chris Mangan (keys), Darren Christie (bass), and Bryan ‘Rolie’ Dwyer (drums).
Chubby Rae & The Elevators
Marisa is well known for fronting Chubby Rae & The Elevators, a rollicking fun-time blues band that has performed at Australia's major blues and roots festivals including Port Fairy, Apollo Bay, Queenscliff, East Coast Blues (Byron Bay), Gympie Music Muster, Bridgetown Blues (WA), and many more. With this outfit, she has released two albums (one live and one studio), and won Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2007 Australian Blues Music Awards.
Chubby Rae & The Elevators
The Blue Yonder
This is Marisa's latest musical venture, joining established local band, The Blue Yonder, playing flute and singing harmonies. The Blue Yonder cook up an all-original musical casserole of indie folk, folk rock, world music, with influences that include a pinch of the Go Betweens, a teaspoon of Led Zeppelin, half an ounce of Cruel Sea with a twist of Leo Kottke, all blended with a healthy dollop of flute-fuelled-slide-guitar-tub-thumping folk rock. Their soaring harmonies and tasty melodies evoke panoramic images of the Australian landscape, and a recipe that’s guaranteed to feed an empty dance floor. The Blue Yonder are: John Fairbridge (guitar), Rolie Dwyer (drums), Ado Osborne (bass) and Marisa Quigley (vocals, flute) and Shakira Mustchin (vocals)
The Blue Yonder
Red Dress & the Sugar Man
Recently, she has spread her wings as a librettist and cabaret performer, writing and starring in her knockout cabaret show, Red Dress and The Sugar Man at the Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe Festivals, as well as in regional Victoria and the Northern Territory.
Red Dress & The Sugar Man
Marisa has shared the stage, supported and sung with well-known Australian indie artists including Ash Grunwald, Mia Dyson, Chris Wilson, Kerri Simpson, Dallas Frasca, Suzannah Espie, Sarah Carroll, Neil Murray and Nick Barker, among others. She has sung on albums with Brian Fraser and Dave Steel and has worked with guitar virtuoso Shannon Bourne (Tex Perkins, The Black Sorrows).
Since 2006 she has been a core member of the Gospel Belles. Together with award-winning blues and gospel singer Kerri Simpson, Kelly Auty and Diana Wolfe, the quartet sings swinging interpretations of their favourite gospel and blues songs in the African-American tradition, delighting audiences at the BMW Edge Theatre Federation Square, Way Out West Blues & Roots Club, Kingston Harvest Festival, the world-famous Speigeltent, Queenscliff Uniting Church, and the Australian Blues Music Festival. In 2011 the Gospel Belles released a self-titled EP that was voted in the Top 10 Albums by Chris Lambie in the 2011 Rhythms Magazine Writer's Poll.
Begley, Butler & Quigley
In 2015, Marisa and songwriter-musicians Helen Begley and Rachel Oak Butler piled into a Bedford truck with Bronson, the three legged dog, an Octocopter, fairy lights, 12 metres of red velvet, guitars, ukuleles, an accordion and a film crew to discover and document what happens when three independent Australian songwriters bring their work and a BBQ to outback Australia. The BBQ To Broken Hill tour, and the successful crowd-funded campaign, garnered widespread media coverage and community support.
Begley, Butler & Quigley
Volunteer radio presenter
Always passionate about supporting independent musicians—and a self-confessed Tom Waits ‘obsessionado’—Marisa presented Nighthawks At The Diner on community radio station PBS FM Melbourne from 2011 to 2015, and Oak FM Wangaratta from 2015-2016. In the wee hours of the morning, once a fortnight, her mellifluous tones eased listeners into their day with a local and international blend of blues, roots, country and folk tunes. And the obligatory Tom Waits tune.