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Singer-songwriter Marie Haddad was five when she started playing piano, but she drifted into other endeavors a few years later. At one point she had to sell her piano in order to stay in college.

“I discovered a grand piano in one of the local hotels that was unattended most of the time in the evening,” she says. “So I started sneaking in to practice on it.”

After playing with various local cover bands, Haddad joined the San Diego Beat Organization, which was nominated as Best New Artist at the 2002 San Diego Music Awards. When that group split, she began performing and recording solo.

“I play piano and sing sort of à la Kate Bush, one of my favorite musicians,” says Haddad. “Her innovative songwriting and production ideas paired with that unmistakable voice captivated me early on.”

She cites Leonard Cohen as the biggest influence on her lyrics. “My copy of Stranger Music — his book of poems, writings, and lyrics — has so many pages bunny-eared and phrases underlined that it’s like a lovingly worshipped textbook.”

Marie Haddad appears March 28 at “IndieFest V” in North Park.

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

“There are some pretty swirly CDs in my player at the moment, like P.J. Harvey’s White Chalk, Manuok’s No End to Limitations, and Blonde Redhead’s 23. There’s also Laurie Anderson’s Strange Angels — I’m still floating after her amazing show and lecture at UCSD recently. I’ve also been playing Vive La Fête’s Jour de Chance, which is a lot of fun.”

MUST-HAVE DVDs?

“My first three choices are Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Amélie, and David Lynch’s The Straight Story. Each shows a unique and honest look at relationships, and all three very much spoke to my heart.

“Also speaking to my heart, but for completely different reasons, is The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a documentary about the super-nerdy and super-wonderful Donkey Kong championships.

“The last one would be 1980’s classic Xanadu, with Olivia Newton-John — in leg warmers, playing the daughter of Zeus — who inspires an unknown painter and Gene Kelly to open a roller-skating rink together. Wow!”

WHAT MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DO YOU ALWAYS RENEW?

“Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion. I’m into making arts and crafts and things and stuff.”

MOST VISITED WEBSITES?

1. The Minisode Network. “I’m especially fond of the Fantasy Island ones.”

2. YouTube.com “How many versions of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ do you think are on there?”

3. Etsey.com “They have arts and crafty things.”

4. Oinkernet.com “It’s a live guinea pig cam!”

5. livefromdarylshouse.com “For Daryl Hall’s internet webcast, he performs with musical guests like Nick Lowe, Chromeo, and K.T. Tunstall — and even John Oates every once in a while.”

TOP FIVE GUILTY PLEASURES?

1. “Staying in my PJs all day.”

2. “Taking way too many photos.”

3. “Creating little creature characters out of food.”

4. “HGTV marathons.”

5. “Onion rings.”

SOMETHING IMPOSSIBLE TO DO WITHOUT?

“I always need to have a piano keyboard. I went a bit crazy when I tried to live without one.”

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?

“I have a certificate of completion from a Radio Shack TRS-80 course.”

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Comments

Jay Allen Sanford March 18, 2009 @ 7:28 p.m.

Outtakes:

DRINK OF CHOICE? “I like most drinks that come with straws.”

FIRST BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING? “The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary.”

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DoktorDave March 19, 2009 @ 12:59 p.m.

I thought you only liked "half" of a drink with a straw?

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TroyRas March 19, 2009 @ 4:04 p.m.

Ahhhh! Ms. Haddad! One of San Diego's musical gems. Guinea pig cam? Hey, what ever floats your boat!

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nsnallan March 19, 2009 @ 7:13 p.m.

Marie Haddad is one of the most creative and ingenious artists to emerge out of San Diego. Listening to her music takes me away to faraway places where the sun is shining and the grass is green :) And I love that she takes too many pictures because they are amazing as well!

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Jay Allen Sanford March 19, 2009 @ 7:35 p.m.

I have a theory that any kid who grows up loving books by Beverly Cleary will always end up being a terrific adult --

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happyron March 20, 2009 @ 1:39 a.m.

Wow both a Kate Bush and Leonard Cohen fan and a keyboardist! PITTER PATTER goes my heart!

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enzian March 20, 2009 @ 11:01 a.m.

Strange Angels and Xanadu? Perfect. But whats a TRS-80?

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BongoFury March 20, 2009 @ 3:52 p.m.

I thought I was the only one who watched the Hamster Channel! Okay so they're guinea pigs-- Yay Marie!

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Jay Allen Sanford March 20, 2009 @ 6:20 p.m.

I hear the Hamster Channel will soon begin screening Richard Gere movies.....and hamsters really like Richard Gere's Channel, too...

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NachoDaddy March 20, 2009 @ 7:37 p.m.

I've only caught samples of her beautiful voice, but between that and this interview, not only do I want to hear more, I am interested in the things that she talked about, including Luigi's Pizzeria.

Please, come sign my computer screen.

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photosbydan Aug. 27, 2009 @ 3:13 p.m.

Missing photo credit: Dan Chusid

Thanks.

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