Fomer Kenickie star returns to Sunderland stomping ground

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A SUNDERLAND musician is going back to where it all began for her home city’s newest festival.

Marie Nixon is one of the confirmed acts for Summer Streets, a community music festival to be held in Thompson Park, Southwick, next month.

It will be a return to an old stomping ground for Marie, who sings and plays guitar for folk group, the Cornshed Sisters.

“I lived in Castletown and I remember doing a tap dancing recital in Thompson Park – it must have been about 30 years ago,” recalls Marie.

Under the name Marie du Santiago, Marie was part of ‘90s indie band Kenickie with Lauren Laverne. Today she juggles being chief executive officer at the University of Sunderland Students’ Union with being in the band.

They’ll be performing at Summer Streets on July 19, which is part of the three-year Cultural Spring project, on a bill that features a host of other home-grown talent.

“I’m really thrilled to be involved in Summer Streets, it’s going to be amazing,” said Marie. “There is so much raw talent within our communities and it’s great to be able to give people a showcase, while at the same time encouraging folk to get involved in music, to pick up an instrument.

“It’s not just a gig, there’ll be so much more going on. Because it’s my home town and there’ll be so much raw endeavour on show I also think I’ll be quite emotional.”

She added: “I just hope people turn out and we, and everyone else playing on July 19, will get an audience. I know for some people it will be the first time they’ve performed in public, which is very brave, and they all need the support of the community and the public.”

Marie and band mates Jenny Brewis, Liz Corney and Cath Stephens are working on new material for an album, some of which will be performed at Summer Streets, which is free to attend.

Summer Streets is being organised by Ross Millard, from The Futureheads, and The Cultural Spring, a three-year £2m Arts Council project, which recently collaborated with the BBC to produce BBC One’s flagship Easter programme, The Great North Passion.

There’s still time for local music-makers to get involved in Summer Streets. For more information visit www.theculturalspring.org.uk.