[StBernard] Former 'Idol' contestant finds home in Weehawken

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sun Dec 16 23:19:20 EST 2007

Former 'Idol' contestant finds home in Weehawken

Featured on Christmas CD to benefit hometown of New Orleans

By: Jim Hague, Reporter staff writer

FINDING A NEW HOME – Multi-talented performer Misty Marshall has settled in
Weehawken, but still loves her native New Orleans, as she contributed a
track for a compilation CD of Christmas songs called “Crescent City Carols”
that will benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Misty Marshall has unique qualifications compared to other performers. The
Weehawken resident boldly proclaims that she is a singer/fire eater. While
Marshall, a former semifinalist on "American Idol," is also an actress and
former television entertainment reporter in her hometown of New Orleans,
part of her personal website is designated for "fire."

"I'm a trained circus professional and trained to work with fire," Marshall
said. "I went to circus school to learn how to eat fire."

The multi-talented Marshall can do a little bit of everything and can do it
well. She's currently featured as a solo performing act on a special
Christmas CD, called "Crescent City Carols," a 15-song compilation of
Christmas tunes performed by fellow natives of New Orleans and the Louisiana

Others performing on the CD include Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Allen
Toussaint, Luther Kent, who sang with Blood, Sweat and Tears and Brian
Stoltz of the Neville Brothers and Funky Meters. Marshall, who was born and
raised in the St. Bernard Parish section of New Orleans and only fled when
Hurricane Katrina hit a little more than two years ago, was contacted by the
Louisiana Music Commission to help out with the Christmas CD.

So with the help of Hoboken resident Lizzie McLachlan, Marshall wrote "White
Dove," which is symbolic of Christmas and the rebirth of her hometown. The
song was recorded in McLachlan's Hoboken studios, called "Gig Lizzy A Space"
studios, and featured Marshall's daughter, Azriel, singing background


The CD features the New Orleans' sound of blues, jazz, zydeco, pop and rock
and $1 from every sale goes to the St. Bernard Parish, which was 100 percent
devastated and destroyed by the floods of Hurricane Katrina.

Starting over

Marshall was fortunate to get out of New Orleans before the flood waters
ravaged the area. She packed up her daughter and fled to Atlanta with her
fiancée (and current husband) Alessandro Rosiglioni two days before the
storm began.

"When I realized I couldn't go back, that's when it hit me," Marshall said.
"Everyone lost everything." Marshall remained in Atlanta for four months in
a hotel as the family tried to find a suitable place to live, as well as
finding new employment.

"We couldn't go home," Marshall said. "We had to start over."

Eventually, Rosiglioni found a job in New York with Goldman Sachs and the
family headed north. "It's funny," Marshall said. "We were looking in
Brooklyn, Queens, in upstate New York and couldn't find anything we liked.
We had to find a place within three days and it was really getting to me. It
was a snowy day and I broke down crying. I just remember the day because I
never had been in snow before. I just knew that the next place I found was
going to be my home."

That turned out to be Boulevard East in Weehawken.

"I just knew that it was where we belonged," Marshall said. "Finally, my
prayers were answered."

The family has remained in Weehawken ever since that fateful snowy day. And
they've made good friends and become comfortable with their new setting. "We
love it here," Marshall said.

But her heart remains in her true hometown.

"I think it's really nice that they remembered me and included me in the
CD," Marshall said. "I really want to help my hometown. They're my people
and we do whatever we can." Marshall's home still remains abandoned. The
rebuilding in the area is slow.

"We went back to see if we could salvage anything and the only thing from my
mother's house we got was some jewelry," Marshall said. "It was so sad. To
go back in, we had to wear protective suits. I was crying the whole time.
Everything was so gray and sullen. There was mold, mildew and maggots. It
was deathly. You could feel the death. It was like a bomb hit. It was so sad
and devastating. It reminded me of the pain of losing the house and my loved

Added Marshall, "If you lived there, you knew someone who didn't survive.
Some people stayed there and ended up on their roofs, looking for help that
didn't arrive. In the past, we knew how to handle hurricanes, but this was
the end all. We didn't expect the levees to break. There's this feeling of
complete helplessness."

Marshall said that she had to apply for federal assistance to survive.

"I mean, we had good jobs and made good money, but we lost everything,"
Marshall said. "I had to apply for help for clothing and food. You really
learn that material things come and go."

Fire eater, singer

Before Hurricane Katrina hit, Marshall had a marvelous life as a performer.
She would readily sing in local clubs throughout the Crescent City and
performed her fire-eating routine - including in a Leeann Rimes video - all
the time. Then five years ago, Marshall was watching the first season of
"American Idol" and decided that she should give it a try.

"I said, `I could do this,'" Marshall said.

So when auditions for the second season began, Marshall went to Atlanta to
give it a whirl. "It was a leap of faith," Marshall said. "I slept outside
on the pavement for two days, waiting to audition. It worked out well,
because I got to go to Hollywood."

Marshall spent three weeks in California and made it to the final 15 in the
second season, the one that featured eventually winner Ruben Studdard and
popular runner-up Clay Aiken.

"It was a great experience," Marshall said. "The show opened doors for me.
My picture was in TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. I had been performing
my whole life and this gave me such a huge boost."

Marshall eventually became an entertainment reporter on the FOX-TV affiliate
in New Orleans and contributed regularly. She performed regularly at places
like the House of Blues. Her career was going well. Then the hurricane hit.

"At the time after `American Idol,' I was working on an album and then
disaster happened," Marshall said. "We had several songs done."

But two years later, Marshall has a new life with her husband of three
months and her daughter, who wants to follow in her mother's footsteps.

"I'm just flattered and excited to be part of this CD," Marshall said. "It's
a way I can share what I do and I can help. It's my gift to New Orleans.
Since it was recorded here, this song is like my bridge between my life here
and my life there. This is like my rainbow after the storm. It brought it
all together. I'm sharing my love of my city with people who I love here."

Marshall will be featured in a movie with Robin Williams and John Travolta,
called "Old Dogs" and another with Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman called "The
Code," both coming out in 2008. For now, she hopes that people buy the
"Crescent City Carols" CD and remember those who lost everything two years

"Don't get me wrong, the sun is shining and the people are still rebuilding
and keeping positive, but they're a long way from pre-Katrina normalcy,"
Marshall said. "We all do what we can, when we can, how we can. I feel truly
blessed that fate landed me here in Weehawken. I was greeted so warmly by
the community at a time when I felt so sad and broken. I felt hope once
again. Creating this song became the culmination of a long journey. The
floodwaters have receded, and I'm comfortable to talk about it. I'm able to
give something back now. People here understood that plight. They had that
empathy, since they have all lived through 9/11 and all of the stories and
fear and grief. But eventually, the human spirit always perseveres. And
after every flood, a rainbow appears."

To learn more about Misty Marshall, log on to her website at
www.mistymarshall.com. To purchase the CD and help the people of St. Bernard
Parish in New Orleans, log on to www.crescentcitycarols.com.

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR at aol.com or
jhague at hudsonreporter.com

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