How I recorded my first album at 57

Helen Meissner / 06 January 2016

Ever been told that you are too old NOT to do something? How a 57-year-old singer-songwriter proved it's never too late to live out your dreams.



Aware of that time was passing, and the expectation that new music is often produced by teenagers, 57-year-old singer/songwriter Marina Florance was trying to decide whether she was too old to embark on what would be her most ambitious project to date. Recording her own full-length album. 

However, challenging words from a friend galvanised her into action. A self-confessed ‘late starter’ Marina had already overcome an initial fear of performing her self-penned folk songs on stage when she was approaching 50, admitting “it was a tough decision to come out of the kitchen”.

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But now, seven years later, Marina had found herself toying with yet another opportunity. Was she too old to attempt to record and produce her own album? with all the necessary technology a complete mystery to her, would she be able to master it? According to author, poet and co-writer, Richard Pierce, she was 'too old not to do it'.

“I was almost 50, in 2007, when I decided the only way to get my music heard was to go out and sing it myself. I was extremely reluctant. The final push was due to my co-writer (Julie Fox Allen) suggesting we go on a one-day course in Norwich Arts Centre. The event culminated in a 'listening session', which I really felt too embarrassed to stay for.  Julie sent me texts saying "It's like the X factor panel here". I told her not to bother, just go home, but lo and behold the panel loved the music. 

"It resulted in Arts Council funding, via the Escalator Project, to record my first full studio album! I was amazed.  I would be able to create something which I would never have been able to justify spending £1000s on. A lack of self-belief had held me back, but now it was going to happen!”

July 2012 saw another milestone reached, when Marina was thrilled to win the only song writing competition she’d ever entered. 'Cry' won the Oldie Composers competition, the song was recorded by actor Anthony Head, after gaining the votes from Radio 2 DJs: Sir Terry Wogan, Bob Harris & Ken Bruce and was performed on National Radio and ITV's This Morning. 

Marina is now gaining a reputation up and down the country, and most recently showcased at an Emerging Talent event put on by Folkstock. Amused by the unusual juxtaposition of her age with the usual connotation of ‘emerging’, Marina quipped on Mustard TV (Norwich’s local TV channel) BBC Norfolk and in the Eastern Daily Press that she was “proving you’re never too old to emerge”

So what made her decide to go ‘one step beyond’?

It was when working with a young female producer, Lauren Deakin Davies, and seeing her so at ease in her home-based studio, that Marina felt ready to 'face her fears and do it anyway'.

“After some considerable research into the best value for money I could find and successfully fighting my techno-phobe tendencies, I asked my family to buy me various elements of the equipment I needed to create my own modest studio largely from Christmas presents in 2014. Uploading the recording software would have been a challenge for me but luckily not for my other half, so I was up and running, well not exactly running...

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"The recording software was a little easier than I'd expected. I watched numerous online tutorials, asked for advice and gradually got my head round the process. 2015 has been a year with an extremely steep learning curve for me but one I have enjoyed immensely. My studio is one of my most favourite places to be, time flies and I feel extremely excited with what I have produced, I am also quite chuffed with the line in quick, easy-to-prepare meals which I have up my sleeve, for when my other half comes home from work...”

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"I can hardly recognise the person I am now, in terms of how much I love these new challenges. With the classic ‘empty nest’ I’ve been able to devote the hours to the detail needed to write, record and produce my own album.

"I hope there are others reading this who feel motivated to try to do something which they’ve been putting off, which they might now have the time to indulge in, it doesn’t have to make you famous to be rewarding. I think sometimes we are afraid of failing, but really if we don’t try something we’d love to do in our hearts, the only person we are failing is ourselves. Yep it’s the truth, “you’re too old not to do it’. Thanks for the inspiration that all my friends and family give me."

Find out more at www.marinaflorance.com

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