AVIVA-Berlin: You were born in England. Why did you come to Berlin? Was there a special reason?
Maroula Blades: I came to this city because of music twelve years ago. Berlin was at that time a very attractive city with a healthy, bustling international music scene.
AVIVA-Berlin: Where there any cultural differences that you immediately experienced when you first arrived in Berlin?
Maroula Blades: Yes, it seemed so quiet everywhere. Rules and regulations for almost everything. This was quite a "culture shock" at first, it took some time to adjust to the system.
AVIVA-Berlin: At what point did you say to yourself "I want to be an artist?"
Maroula Blades: When my mother refused to listen to me one day during a discussion, so I wrote down what I thought and felt at the time. On that day I discovered another side of me, one that was able to break through barriers. I approached my mother with the page and stunned her with a vocal roller coaster.
AVIVA-Berlin: When did you start your training to be a professional singer/ songwriter and how did you pursue your career?
Maroula Blades: I had singing lessons from my late teens and I joined the Baylis Programme. The Baylis Programme is English National OperaÂ´s community outreach unit, established in 1985. The programme takes its name from Lillian Baylis who was the founder of SadlerÂ´s Wells Opera Company, now the English National Opera at the London Coliseum. In this programme students are taught drama, music and singing skills. Musicals initiated by the Baylis Programme are stage throughout England and are very successful. IÂ´ve sung in various projects over the years. Recently I worked together with a Gospel choir on the new film "The Bobby Darren Story" directed by Kevin Spacy. My lyrical style developed in creative writing courses and writing songs on the guitar.
AVIVA-Berlin: Your show is called "Black Widow" Where does this name come from? What does it mean for you?
Maroula Blades: The name was inspired by a dance performance of "Tristan and Isolde" at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt-Berlin. I also wrote a sensual poem from the male perspective with the same title about tainted love. It is a powerful poem accompanied by atmospheric music written by George Henry who writes a lot of the poetry-music together with music from Peter Dennett and myself. We automatically called the show "Black Widow" because the poem used to be the introduction to our programme. The name just stuck.
AVIVA-Berlin: What do you think is your biggest artistic success so far?
Maroula Blades: ThatÂ´s hard question to answer because I feel like IÂ´m on the fourth rung of a very high ladder. But what I can say is that IÂ´m looking forward to the performances of two one-act monologues which will be staged at the Friends Of Italian Opera at beginning of April. The programme will be a harmonious amalgamation of art, music, and drama. I am happy to working with very talented people, Nooreen Shar-Preusser, (actress) Peter Blau, (slide artist) George Henry, (music) Gordon Gatherer, (actor), Jesta Phoenix, (Dramaturge) and last but not least Peter Dennett (music)
AVIVA-Berlin: Do you ever have negative experiences because of your colour here in Berlin? If so, how do you deal with it?
Maroula Blades: IÂ´m often subjected to discrimination and ridicule, it does hurt at times, especially if ItÂ´s directed at my son. I rise above it by telling my son, and myself "We are the head and not the tail end of things." I truly believe we are all born with a special gift and this gift no one can steal or copy it if you remain true to yourself. ThereÂ´s an individual niche out there for everyone and with determination, discipline, faith and an ounce of talent you can find it when you donÂ´t fear the challenge or the learning involved in reaching your goal. IÂ´ve found my niche.
AVIVA Berlin: Your lyrics are very profound and sad. They tell us something about losers in our society and about loneliness and pain. Are these your own experiences?
Maroula Blades: IÂ´m a very observant person. I make it my business to try to understand what is going on around me. I give the people who wouldnÂ´t necessarily be heard a chance to tell their stories through my voice. That is not to say I have not felt sorrow or pain, but I try to avoid therapeutic writing. Of course certain experiences can spark off interesting ideas. The wonderful thing about writing is that there are no rules, even true life experiences can be distorted and exaggerated. After this process ItÂ´s fiction, the rest is left to the imagination and the pen
AVIVA-Berlin: You are a single parent - you have an 8-year-old son. Tell us how you manage to combine creativity and daily life.
Maroula Blades: It can be very trying at times because IÂ´m juggling many things during the course of the day. My main priority is my son who is also source of inspiration and then my career. I am a disciplined person and I donÂ´t give-up without a fight. When I do fall, I get back up, dust myself off, and start again. I spend my leisure time as short as it is with writing, reading, sport, organising literary events and cheering my son on at his football club. ThereÂ´s never a dull moment, ItÂ´s all go 24/7.
AVIVA-Berlin: What projects are you working on at the moment?
Maroula Blades: IÂ´m involved in a number of projects at the moment:
"Words International" 03. March 2004, Schwartzsche Villa. Sarah Schmidt (author) and Nooreen Shar-Preusser (actress), Maroula Blades, Peter Blau and George Henry.
"Words in Motion 01.,02. and 03. April 2004 at Friends of Italian Opera" includes two pieces:
"Poetry In Motion" written by Maroula Blades, guest: Larry Gordan and "One of you" is a one-act monologue written and performed by Nooreen Shar-Preusser on 22. May 2004 at the Literaturhaus, FasanenstraÃe 23, Berlin-Charlottenburg.
AVIVA-Berlin: What are your goals for the future?
Maroula Blades: I have recently finished the first draft of a novel which I hope will be published in the future. The Verbrecher Verlag is interested in publishing a book of short stories this year.
All the multi-media programmes I have been involved in so far have been organised and financed personally by George Henry and myself. We hope to find a sponsor(s) in the near future to ease the financial pressure, but until then, we shall continue to work as usual.
AVIVA-Berlin: If you could do anything you want, what would you wish for or want to change in a city like Berlin?
Maroula Blades: I try to promote a better understanding of cultural differences and to highlight social issues in a harmonious, artistic way by using words, music, and artistic images. My wish is to bridge cultural and social divides. This can only be achieved through education with the emphasis on "tolerance". This is where art can make a huge difference in our society because it has the power to bring about new insights. I only hope in the near future artists in Berlin and elsewhere will be financially supported and acknowledged, as we are an important educational presence in todayÂ´s society where there are so many misunderstandings due to ignorance from lack of information and communication on a human level.