HAVING a goal and working towards fulfilling it is not always an easy task for many people. But 17-year-old Maryse S. Marius is a rare case: she is actually hard at work on three dream jobs and has devised a simple plan for success for the rest of her life.
The teenage musician and photographer from Union, Castries, said that when she was around seven, her sister, Lisa J. Weekes, a well-known soca star, often practiced her songs at home and would bring Maryse to shows where she performed, including Tempest, organized by Francis “Leebo” De Lima and Christopher Hunte. Maryse was immediately inspired to follow her elder sister’s passion for music.
“I wasn’t really much of a singer back then,” she admitted, boldly. “I just liked the energy and feel of the music. When I was around nine, Lisa and my mother asked me whether I wanted to play keyboards or violin. I opted for keyboards. That’s when the journey with my learning to play musical instruments began.”
Marius eventually took up keyboards, drums and piano, learning the basics at Musicman Store and Learning Centre. However, she stuck with the guitar “because it was more fun” and the songs were easier to play on that instrument. She credits tutors Kaylon Lovence and Carl Gustave with developing her early skills most of her musical talents thereafter was self-taught.
She attended St. Joseph’s Convent where she became a member of the school’s band – Impromptu — in Form Two and performed at its regular Club Friday. Marius joined the school’s junior and senior steel pan orchestras, playing drums. She soon became captain of Impromptu. Her last performance with the band was at her graduation ceremony last year.That year, she also joined the school’s photography club.
In 2015, Marius spent some time at the Saint Lucia School of Music honing her guitar skills with tutor Wagner Trindade. She was recruited into the school’s jazz band, which later performed Side Stage at the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. After Trindade left the island, she took a semester of vocal training with Andreya Nicholson.
Sometime ago, her brother, Mario, who raps and produces music, had a scheduled performance with his band at Headphunk and needed a guitarist. After playing with her brother’s band that night and getting positive feedback, she became a regular on the monthly show. She would later perform at Blu Sessions: Word in Altered Scale and with her uncle, Travis Weekes, on some poetry vibes.
Recently, Marius got another chance to showcase her musical talent during Francophonie Week at the National Cultural Centre. Despite photographing the event being her principal reason for being there, Marius was invited onstage by the main act, poet Emmalyn Octavie of French Guiana, to perform with Octavie and her guitarist, Thierry Salomon.
Her musical influences include Lisa, John Mayer and Keith Urban, the latter with whom she dreams of performing. However, she said she has an appreciation for “older music” from the Motown era, so much so that her mother calls her “the old soul of the house”. She even writes her own songs and has since recorded one.
Aside from music, Marius is passionate about photography, telling me that she took it up as a hobby after being inspired by her father, Dr. H. Marius, who was a photographer. Her early learning skills involved “wasting the film by snap, snap, snap” which led to her father hiding his cameras. Mario’s camera became her next instrument for experimentation with the art form. In 2013, she finally got her own camera and began her business, Maryse S. Marius Photography doing photoshoots.
Marius said staying focused on her goals does come with mixed blessings. However, she said her zeal for charting her life’s course on her own terms often wins despite the naysayers who say she’s taking up way more than she can handle.
“I always get a lot of good advice from my parents, siblings and other relatives,” she said. “Even Sister Rufina (Principal of St. Joseph’s Convent) often told me that I would end up doing music. However, many people would tell me that there’s no money in music and the other arts in Saint Lucia. They always told me to choose something serious.”
She said the main challenge she faces with having to do music and photography was balancing them with school. After leaving SJC, she spent one semester at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) studying Communication Studies, Economics, Management of Business and Applied Mathematics. She’s currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Economics online with the UWI Open Campus.
“School is not really the problem. However, if I really want to go full throttle into music and photography, I am limited in what I can do. But school is important and comes first,” she explained.
Marius plans to get as much education as she can, travel and work for a major organization for a few years and retire at age 35. From then onwards, she plans to give up everything that office-based and dedicate all her energies to music and photography. She plans to continue thinking big.
“I’d like to see myself working with the World Bank, United Nations, UNICEF or an embassy. I don’t want to work at a bank. I prefer to work in areas that deal in addressing poverty and development,” she tells me.
At first glance, Marius might seem unassuming, shy and introverted. But this rare talent whose favourite phrase is “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go”, believes that she is most comfortable with the space she’s in, the moments she creates and the future to which she plans to make the most of. Carpe diem, for her, seems another apt phrase.
“My advice to anyone wanting to succeed is to not just do it but do it in a way that benefits you and everyone around you. Make the most of your talents and when there’s an opportunity, jump at it. I believe that there’s always a way that is already there for you to do what you’re supposed to and want to do,” Marius said.