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  • Ida Beltran-Lucila

Proud Luisa: Love's Got Everything to Do with It

A read-through of Luisa Marshall’s write-up will leave anyone awestruck with her stunning success. What is more impressive, however, is the underneath driving factors of love, humility, strive for excellence that propels her to expand her boundaries.

Luisa’s story starts with a childhood dream of being an actress, performing in various musical productions. Her singing has allowed her to travel to different countries and the decision to be a permanent resident in Canada in the early 1990s. She carries the immigrant story of sacrificing for the family, of homesickness and of the resolve to acquire and lead a better life. In all her trials and eventual successes, her philosophy is “to live life, love life to the fullest. To be compassionate and have moral responsibility to help others. To give back to Canada and to empower immigrants to be productive, to work hard and to follow their dream”.

Luisa Marshall is a Renaissance woman - singer, TV host, producer, publisher, advocate, wife, mother (not in any order of importance). As a singer, Luisa performed with the popular Manila band Ambivalent Crowd. She then went on tour as lead vocalist for Hall of Fame throughout Asia, the Middle East and North America. It was in one of this tours that a random act of donning a Tina Turner wig while doing a cover of Proud Mary, that her entertaining circuit turned a cornerstone. With her strong vocals and a resemblance to Tina Turner, the tribute artist act became another vehicle for her talent. This was capped by garnering the Grand Prize at the World Rock n Roll Tribute Artist Championship in 2003. Highlights of her tribute artist stint are guestings at the Ellen Degeneres show and Oprah Winfrey Show - performing in front of Cher and Tina Turner herself (!), and portraying the role of Tina Turner in the stage musical “TINA, A Rock n Roll Journey” in 2006.

Guesting at the Ellen Show

Based in Vancouver, Luisa hosts her own tv talk show Simply the Best, which is now on its 8th year, in the Shaw Multicultural Channel. Together with husband Steve Marshall, they publish the MetroVan Independent News. The tv show, the Tina Turner tribute shows and their newspaper are the platforms for her advocacies. The tv magazine format allows her to inspire people through lifestyle, health, and self-empowerment features. The newspaper is a voice for accountability, societal equity and information. And the Tina Turner tribute shows serve as a medium to bring joy, to raise funds, and to increase awareness for different causes. Her tribute shows has seen her in tours for the United Nations Peacekeeping Force which included war-torn Bosnia and Sarajevo, and for the Multinational Force and Observers in Israel and Egypt; fundraisers for calamities in the Philippines, Haiti, United Way, Red Cross, Cancer Societies, among others.

Unsurprisingly, she has received accolades, recognition and rave reviews from both ends of the world: voted as one of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants alongside two time NBA MVP Steve Nash (2013), which she considers as one of the most defining moments in her life; a feature in “My Filipino Connection, The Philippines in Hollywood”, authored by Ruben V. Nepales, Chairman of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (2012); the MIDES Award 2011 (Mother Ignacia Del Espiritu Santo) given by the Gracean Worldwide Inc. in Las Vegas; the Gantimpala Award by the University of Santo Tomas (2010), among others.

With her various undertakings, family supersedes everything else. Luisa considers herself first and foremost a mother to their two daughters, Kimi (a musician, songwriter, and arts director) and Zenia (actor, singer, songwriter). It is a mutual admiration club - she gets her inspiration from their love and they think the world of her. She is their superhero, the inspiration and exemplar, and the best cook. Her husband Steve, whom she teasingly refers to as “the biggest slave of all”, is her anchor, allowing her the space and time to spread her wings, at the same time grounding her amidst all the whirlwind of activities and stress. They are a family truly involved in each other’s lives. Last year, the family went on a performance road tour across Canada to raise funds and awareness for Canadian military Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Encountering the beauty of Canada while simultaneously raising about $30,000 was a truly bonding experience for them.

Amidst these heady achievements and worldly accolades, Luisa retains a philosophical and humble disposition. In the bustle of all her activities, she strives to live in the moment, stay positive, and be grateful. To quote her, “Once you have a grateful heart, you have a happy heart! With a happy heart you can do wonders and it’s sometimes surprisingly magical how you can make a difference to others. We can all do this by dedicating our life to a cause, a goal, a dream.”

Luisa will be performing her Tina Turner Tribute show in Edmonton on April 29, Saturday, 7:00 pm at the Howard Johnson Hotel. Tickets are available through Brenda Kaminsky Entertainment Productions at 780-964-2513. When you watch her show, you don’t just experience a full evening of delight and talent, but also celebrate everything she stands for - a Filipino, a renowned artist, an exemplar, a crusader, and an enthusiast of life.

Asked on what is the utmost lesson that she wants to impart, she replies: “Never be afraid to dream and to live the dream. Be wacky, be impossible, be different, be cool, be weird, be who you are! But make sure you are realistic and level-headed going for your dream. Always make careful plans and reasonable steps to get there without causing misery to others... That love is greater than money. That love for one’s self motivates more productivity that ignites the spirit within. That nobody’s perfect but you can work hard to be the best you can. That respect, gratefulness and compassion are important. But, most of all, be humble!”

Luisa’s turning points in life have been propelled by love - love for her singing, her family, and for service. And as the saying goes, love indeed makes the world go round. Such is the case with Luisa, and she has done it with grace and magnanimity. Be proud of yourself, Luisa, as anyone who knows you and meets you is, or will be, proud of you.

This article was published in the March 2017 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.

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