I have long been a casual fan of American/Canadian pop singer Mary Zilba. However, I must confess that I never followed her career too closely, and I lost touch with her goings-on somewhere in the mid-2000s. So not only was I surprised when, late in 2011, it was announced that there would be a Canadian version of the Real Housewives franchise (one of my fave series), but also that Ms. Zilba herself would be one of the "housewives"! I must admit, I didn't hold out much hope for the show, as most Canadian versions of American shows are embarrassingly weak and uninteresting copies of the American versions. But soon after The Real Housewives Of Vancouver began, I was hooked, and it has since become one of my faves of the series. Who knew Canadian women could be SO bitchy!? Mary is portrayed as the sweet, innocent one who is basically the punching bag for the other ladies, and it seems to reflect her true nature, though this season it appears she may be a little more calculating than she at first appeared... Anyway, the show renewed my interest in Mary's music, so I dragged out my copy of her first album and was reminded how talented a singer she is and how fun her music can be. Her story is easy to find on the internet - born in Ohio, Mary sang throughout school and joined a band called Junkyard. Discouraged by the Ohio music scene, she went to college and got a degree in Journalism. She worked as a reporter and TV host, and in 1986 (or 1987, depending on the source) she won the Miss Ohio crown, and won the talent portion of the Miss America competition, but not the title (incidentally, she and her sister Juliana are the only sisters to ever have competed in the Miss America pageant - and her sister won the talent portion as well in 1981). Soon after, Mary moved to Florida and created and hosted a travel show called Eye On Fort Lauderdale. But her true passion was for music, so she moved to Los Angeles to pursue it and scored a music deal with an indie label. There she hooked up with popular pop producer Ian Prince (who also worked with previous Isle postees Elisa Fiorillo, Starleana, Adele Bertei, Stacy Earl, Kiara Hunter and Sheree Jeacocke) and released her self-titled album in 1998. Though it went unnoticed in the US, interest was brewing in Canada, where the album was re-released as Out Of The Blue the next year. Mary moved to Vancouver to pursue this Canadian interest, and she had three Canadian Top 40 hits off of the album - "Seduction", "Do Me Right" and "See You Again". Her next album Fly was released in 2003 and produced only minor hits with "Put Your Arms Around Me", "Whatever" and "Give It Up". Left with no album deal, Mary continued to perform and also pursued acting and philanthropy. She did release a 'best of' entitled Flashback Fast Forward in 2009 to appease her fans, and it included seven new tracks - "Little Miss Reckless", "Unconditional", "Too Many Times", "This Is Me", "I Will Never Have You", "Delusion" and "Afterglow" (should you wish, you can download the collection HERE. ;) With her interest in music still strong and a desire to promote it, Mary soon applied for the Real Housewives Of Vancouver and got the gig. Though the show has increased her profile in Canada and given her a minor hit with a song she wrote and performed on the show, "Hero", it remains to be seen if the show will give her the music success she still craves. But she has used the abuse that she has received on the show to her and others' advantage, as she is now involved in anti-bullying campaigns, in addition to work for PETA, Tuberous Sclerosis and Epilepsy.
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