Simply the Best 

Luisa Marshall winning acclaim portraying the Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll

Who: Luisa Marshall as Tina Turner

Where: Pemberton Legion

When: Saturday, May 21

Tickets: $15

The raspy voice, the wild bed-head, the legs up to there set off by an extensive wardrobe of rock ’n’ roll micro-mini skirts, and hit after hit after hit. Tina Turner is a true rock icon.

Once you gain that status, even your quirks gain a certain degree of cachet. With Turner, it’s a certain gawky signature dance move similar to shaking one’s forearms dry.

And it’s just one more thing that Vancouver-based Tina Turner impersonator Luisa Marshall says comes naturally.

Told over and over again that she looked and sounded like the Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll, nightclub singer Marshall was flattered.

Not so much when it came to the dance move.

"When she dances, she’s got dead arms," Marshall laughs. "I had those! But it was a good thing when I started doing the tribute. It’s kind of hard to fake that."

It’s kind of hard to fake a world-class arena rock act too, but Marshall was born to play Tina. The act found her during a running gig in a British nightclub in Dubai in 1995. One club regular suggested he’d like to see her perform her bring-down-the-house rendition of Proud Mary in a Tina Turner wig. Marshall eventually found a suitable wig and a star impersonator was born.

"The people just went nuts and that was it!" Marshall says.

Enthusiastic response aside, Marshall says she had no intention of pursuing a career as a Turner impersonator on her return to Vancouver. But her passion for Turner’s music added to the remarkable likeness (and don’t forget the innate dead arm dance move) made every Tina Turner cover song she sang a crowd favourite.

More and more Turner songs were added to her repertoire over the next five years until there were enough to do an entire Turner set. From there, it was just one long-legged step to the costumes, wigs and Hotlegzz backup dancers.

Marshall’s take on Tina went on to win the 2003 World Tribute Artist Championships, held that year in Fort Erie, Ont. But the true measure of her success as an impersonator happened this past January when she was invited to perform on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show featuring Turner. The experience brought Marshall face to face with her idol.

"I was numb!" she exclaims. "I still haven’t recovered from that. She’s a goddess. She’s amazing. Very striking and charming. An amazing woman. And she’s cool ."

The Oprah performance featured Turner’s mega-hit "Simply The Best," which is also Marshall’s favourite song.

For the time being, Marshall shows no sign of tiring of the Turner gig. The next big thing on the horizon is a musical production called All Hail The Queen, which she says is aiming to open on Turner’s birthday in November of this year.

As the years add up for her career as a Turner impersonator, Marshall insists she’s not worried about losing her own voice as a singer.

"I’ll be honest with you," she says confidentially, "I really sound like her! This is my own voice! I can still sing a lot of other songs that are not Tina, but somehow it will sound like Tina because it’s my real voice."

The one thing Marshall has yet to achieve is a personal shoemaker. One night after a show Marshall had the chance to meet Turner’s tour manager of eight years, who revealed that at every performance the rock diva has endless identical pairs of her trademark spike heels at her disposal – all custom made to feel as comfortable as sneakers.

Marshall says her response was: "Cheater!"

"I wear the real ones and they hurt! They really hurt!" she exclaims.

But abuse of her feet is a small price to pay to play her idol.

"She’s very uplifting," Marshall says. "Every woman in the world should listen to her music."

Luisa Marshall as Tina Turner plays the Pemberton Legion this Saturday evening. Marshall will be performing solo with recorded music. Tickets are $15. For information call 604-894-6561.

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