Pop star to student star – Kenickie guitarist becomes Sunderland students’ union boss

Former Kenickie guitarist Marie Nixon who is the new chief executive of Sunderland University Students Union.
Former Kenickie guitarist Marie Nixon who is the new chief executive of Sunderland University Students Union.
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A FORMER pop star is heading for a new career with students in Sunderland.

Guitarist with 90s Wearside band Kenickie, Marie Nixon, is taking on her latest role as the University of Sunderland chief executive officer of the Students’ Union.

As the new term begins on campus, Marie will soon play a key part in leading the union, which is made up of students from across the university, helping to make their stay in Sunderland a happy and memorable one.

It is hoped Marie’s creative career will inspire students to work hard towards their dreams.

As well as performing in Kenickie, she has worked for the North of England Arts Council and in the music industry with artists such as the Manic Street Preachers and Groove Armada.

Marie said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the Students’ Union. The university is such an important part of the city and the students are its beating heart.”

But for Marie, the journey to cultivate a creative career all started in Sunderland, growing up in Castletown, where her family still lives, and attending St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy, where she met Kenickie bandmates Lauren Laverne and Emmy-Kate Montrose.

The three formed the band with Lauren’s brother, Pete Gofton and their music was soon featuring on radio.

When Kenickie split up in the late 90s, Marie, who went by the name Marie du Santiago in the band, decided to go behind the scenes of the music industry into artist management, but after nine years in London, in 2005 she returned to her native North East.

She said: “I was really keen to return to the North East. It’s an incredible place. It’s my home and my family are all here.”

As well as the new day job, Marie also ensures she keeps an outlet for her passion for music as a member of The Cornshed Sisters, whose album Tell Tales was released in April.

Marie takes over her new role from Sue Masters who, after four years as chief executive and more than 22 years with the union, has decided to take early retirement this year.

SU president Michael Egan said: “Marie’s experience in the entertainment industry will potentially be a great asset in raising the profile of the Students’ Union and allow us to continue expanding and providing a great service for all students.”

Twitter: @sunechoschools

Lauren Laverne, formerly Lauren Gofton, went on to achieve fame as a radio DJ, television presenter, author and singer.

She presents a radio show on BBC Radio 6 Music and has presented television programmes including 10 O’Clock Live for Channel 4, The Culture Show and coverage of the Glastonbury Festival for the BBC.

She is an ambassador for Wearside and received an honorary fellowship from the University of Sunderland in July 2009.

Pete Gofton, who performed with Kenickie as Johnny X, remained working in the music industry as both a musician and producer after the band split.

He is well known on the North East music scene having worked with numerous artists, either producing of performing, and was a founder members of Frankie and The Heartstrings.

Emmy-Kate Montrose went on to form a new band, Rosita, with Marie du Santiago and released two singles before splitting up.

She is now Dr Emma Jackson, a sociologist and writer, and works at Glasgow University.