New Zealand singer: Elizabeth Marvelly

Kiwi singer songwriter Elizabeth Marvelly’s career has taken her around the world, but it’s her New Zealand home that has inspired her latest musical journey.

The 21-year-old singer, who grew up in the thermal tourist town of Rotorua, has returned from three years of international touring to release a new album that’s a tribute to her roots - and simply titled 'Home'.

Marvelly says her second album is the result of "the whirlwind experiences" encountered on the road to musical fame over the past three years.

Coming of age

Critics describe 'Home' as "a coming of age" for this down-to-earth Kiwi girl.

The album - recorded with the Grammy-nominated and Brit-award-winning UK producer Nick Patrick - received rave reviews and a #6 debut in New Zealand's top 10 album charts.

Marvelly says 'Home' reflects her love of her country and admiration of New Zealand songwriters.

She penned the opening and title songs on the album which otherwise consists of re-interpreted songs accompanied by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

It features versions of iconic Kiwi hits Don't Dream It's Over by Crowded House, and Welcome Home by Dave Dobbyn, and traditional Maori songs E Papa and Tarakihi.

Life of performing

While it’s only a few years since she came to national attention in 2006, Elizabeth Marvelly’s musical career began much earlier.

Music and performance were constant companions as she grew up in the salons and hallways of Rotorua’s iconic Princes Gate Hotel where her parents Brett and Vlasta Marvelly were - and still are - the owners and hosts.

Brett Marvelly says his daughter knew "from a very young age" that she wanted to perform.

Marvelly began playing the piano at age four and singing at eight, and was always ready to perform with the many grownup musicians, entertainers and personalities who visited the hotel.

By the time Marvelly was 13, father and daughter were commuting three hours to Auckland every Sunday for the singing lessons that helped launch her musical career.

At school, the straight A student, also excelled in speech and drama, and earned a reputation on the sports field.

Debut album

Marvelly was 18 - and freshly graduated from secondary school - when she released her first album in late 2007.

The critically acclaimed debut album - a self-titled pop classical album went to #8 in its first week on the New Zealand charts.

Next came tours of Australasia (2008), then Europe (2009) with Britain's Got Talent opera phenomenon Paul Potts, performing to an audience that numbered in the millions at prestigious venues including Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House.

Described by NZ Prime Minister John Key as "a national treasure", Marvelly is one of only three New Zealanders to have gained an international recording contract with EMI Classics in the last decade.

Sports field

Elizabeth Marvelly is also no stranger to the sports field where she has performed before major international rugby and rugby league matches in New Zealand, Australia and Italy.

A fervent All Blacks supporter "from a rugby-mad family", Marvelly says there's "no greater honour" than singing the New Zealand national anthem for her heroes.

"Walking out to sing on the same field that our team will play on is the most electrifying buzz, and having the team lined up beside me singing along is a pretty amazing feeling. Go the All Blacks!"

Q&A: Elizabeth Marvelly talks about ‘home’

When you are away and thinking about home, what comes to mind?

Beautiful landscapes, Māori culture, friendly people and the can-do Kiwi attitude. Jumping off the jetty at Okahu bay in summer; eating fish and chips on Mount Maunganui beach with family; drinking Milo by the fire with friends in the winter. Pohutukawa trees at Christmastime and long summer days spent beside the Rotorua lakes. I always feel extremely proud to be a New Zealander.

What's your favourite place to be in New Zealand, and why?

I have so many favourite places so it's hard to choose just one! I call both Rotorua and Auckland home, and they are both very special to me.

I love the beauty of Rotorua and the traditions of the Te Arawa people. I grew up as part of a community that has a long, proud history of hospitality, entertainment and respect for our cultural taonga, and I am immensely proud to call myself a Rotorua girl.

I also love the vibrant and electric atmosphere of Auckland. I love the way that each neighbourhood in Auckland, be it Parnell, Mt Eden or Ponsonby, has its own unique 'flavour'. Home to people of almost every ethnic background you could possibly imagine, Auckland is colourful, bright, and bustling; alive in every sense of the word.

What's your favourite holiday destination, and why?

My favourite holiday destination within New Zealand is Mount Maunganui. Since before I can remember, my family has been taking the traditional Kiwi annual family beach holiday at Mount Maunganui, and even now I still look forward to that yearly pilgrimage to the beautiful seaside town.

The beautiful beach, white sand, great surf, fabulous cafés and restaurants, and close proximity to both Auckland and Rotorua are compounded for me by the fact that we've made many friends over the years who still holiday there at the same time we do every year. Gosh, just thinking about it now makes me wish for January to come quicker!

More information

New Zealand singer: Hayley Westenra