a condensed biography
Born in Toronto, Ontario Canada, Marlene O'Neill is one of Canadian Christian Music's premier Southern/Inspirational vocalists. Numerous nominations and awards have been given to Marlene in honor of her outstanding musical achievements from both GMA-Canada and MAJA Music Awards organizations. Music experiences include everything from musical-theatre stage productions, special conferences, corporate events, church services, and concerts.
Currently Marlene receives calls to sing the anthems at NBA games and various women's conferences where she provides special music, inspirational speaking and worship leading. She has ten (10) compact disc recordings to her credit of which several singles have been released to radio.
O'Neill has taken her special brand of Southern Gospel across Canada, the United States, Scotland, Zambia, Africa and Guayaquil, Ecuador. Her music has even traveled to places where she herself has yet to see; nations such as Poland, Nairobi, Kenya and the Asia Pacific.
2010 found the release of Marlene's current project titled "the Hymns Project". O'Neill was a regular musical guest on the nationally televised "100 Huntley Street" program before they became an informative, Christian news-based program. She can also be seen regularly on the Peoples Church (Living Truth)" television broadcast.
Other recording studio experiences include compilation CDs, song demos, in-studio vocal coaching, background vocals and duets with other artists. With years of experience and, yes, even challenges under her belt, Marlene is reaching out in a tangible and translucent way. With a polished and professional approach to sharing her love for Christ she is reaching the world for His glory.
Her transparency with the audience lets them know that she is simply a 'real-life' woman with a 'real-life', yet professional, approach to musical worship.
a complete biography
O'Neill is no stranger to the Gospel music audience given her 35-plus years of experience! From the age of 5 she has been on stage in both group and soloist capacity. Many Southern Gospel fans in Ontario watched Marlene grow up on stage, singing with her mother and brother as "The Elliott Family". They performed in such places as Hamilton Place (Hamilton, ON), Canada's Wonderland (Toronto), Massey Hall (Toronto), Kleinhan's Music Hall (Buffalo, NY), Rodney Sings (Rodney, ON) and thousands of other venues, too many to mention.
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Her reputation was then established both as an accomplished soloist and as an affective group member.
Marlene studied first in the Fine Arts Program (theatre, dance and music) at York University and then the prestigious Jazz Music Program at Humber College. In 1987 she embarked on a solo ministry along with her husband Jim, then forming a joint partnership called O'Neill Ministries. She moved on to fulltime ministry in February 1998. With the loss of Marlene's brother Tim to Cancer in 1997, she is determined like never before to sharing the message through song of the faithfulness, love and grace of her Heavenly Father who has sustained her and her family through this trying time of life.
Marlene stepped into full-time music ministry in February 1998 and has ten (10) solo recordings to her credit including her latest release titled 'the Hymns Project'.
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Current releases are receiving airplay on most Christian radio programs in Canada, parts of the United States, Nairobi, Kenya, Zambia, Australia, Asia Pacific and parts of Europe. Travels have taken her all across Canada, parts of the United States, Scotland, Zambia, Africa and Guayaquil, Ecuador Current musical performance experiences include everything from musical theatre stage productions, special conferences, corporate events, church services, and concerts.
Currently Marlene receives calls to sing the anthems at NBA games at the Air Canada Centre and various women's conferences where she provides special music, inspirational speaking and worship leading. In addition, Marlene has been privileged to guest solo live with several church choirs and orchestras in Canada and the United States.
Marlene is a regular musical guest on the nationally televised '100 Huntley Street' program and, in the past, joined the ladies on the couch as a guest co-host on their 'Full Circle' program as well. She has also been involved in several of their in-house produced CD's. Marlene is on regular rotation as a vocal artist on television's 'The Peoples' Church (Living Truth)' broadcast from Toronto, Ontario - broadcasting to as far away as the UK and India. It was there that she was cast as the female principal role in their Christmas stage production of "A Time for Christmas" in 2002.
In addition, Marlene played the female principal role in "Pilgrim's Progress-the musical" workshop/performance reading at Lighthouse Theatre-Port Dover, Ontario. Marlene was also honored to be cast in the theatre stage production of "The Evolution of Gospel Music". Produced by Toronto Mass Choir director, Karen Burke and music director/writer, Corey Butler.
2011 marked it's 3rd year of staging and every year Marlene continues to provide soul-stirring solos and dramatic stage presence as character 'Ma Lyn' (- midwife to song writer Tommy Dorsey's wife Nettie Harper) as well as front-line vocal support. This production hits the stage in the Toronto area yearly in the month of February.
Experience has also allowed her the opportunity to be the critically accclaimed soundtrack soloist for the hit Christian movie in the Apocolypse series, called "Revelation" (1999) in which she sings the opening song titled "I Wish We'd All Been Ready". Recording studio experiences include many compilation CD's, song demos, numerous background vocal sessions and duets with other artists.
O'Neill Ministries has experienced a tremendous increase in music ministry opportunities over the past few years.
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They are now seeing that over-seas missions are becoming another extension of the music ministry of Marlene O'Neill as the Lord expands her territory. Travels currently take her across Canada, the United States and now twice abroad to Chingola, Zambia, Africa.
Marlene has been greatly involved in humanitarian efforts with MATE/FCC (Missions for the Advancement of Theological Education/Friends Committed to Caring) providing, amongst other things, free daily medical clinics and evening concerts to encourage the underprivileged and provide them with the opportunity to receive Christ. August 2005 marked Marlene's 2nd visit to Africa.
Her tenacious efforts in this regard has left a definite impact specifically on the youth and musicians of Zambia as she gives of her heart and talents. MATE/FCC Executive Director states, "Marlene's last trip to Zambia has left pleasant memories in the minds of Zambians and as such they look forward with joy to her return."
Most recently, in 2015, Marlene was invited to participate in a mission to Guayaquil, Ecuador where the team of 12 Canadians provided a Daily Bible School to under-priviledged children and youth. Daily music with the children, teaching a 75 voice childrens choir and presenting several concerts while there rounded out her responsibilities on this trip.
Willing to go any distance throughout the years has allowed Jim and Marlene to witness and experience many life-changing events in others; many of which involve people being encouraged in their walk.
With years of experience and, yes, even challenges under her belt, Marlene is reaching out in a tangible and transparent way with a polished and professional approach to sharing her love for Christ. Her transparency with the audience lets them know that she is simply a "real-life woman" with a "real-life", yet professional, approach to musical worship.
Marlene O'Neill currently resides in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada with her husband Jim - married since 1987. They have two children and a new son-in-law! Kayla is married to Ben Lehman and they enjoy raising their little-one, Stella (a tiny chihuahua). Their son Tyler works in the fitness clothing industry and spends lots of time at the gym. They faithfully attend Kennedy Road Tabernacle in Brampton, Ontario and participate in events there when not on the road.
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A Word From Marlene ...
I have spent the majority of my life traveling as a singer. The Bible says that God has given each of us a gift and our gifts need to be turned back to the Creator of those gifts; whatever that gift might be. This is paramount to me. I travel and sing for no other reason than to use the talents that He has so graciously trusted me with. 'To uplift and encourage people in their walk with Christ and to bring others in to a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father through up-lifting and thought-provoking music' - That is the heartbeat and purpose of this ministry. There are so many hurting souls in this beautiful world that we live in and if my gifts are instrumental in touching or encouraging just one then my purpose has been fulfilled. Where the doors of opportunity open I will go in faith, knowing that He has already paved the way and prepared the hearts of those who will be there. Even when doors of opportunity are sometimes closed I am sure that things are still under God's control and He has chosen His best for me. My purpose is His purpose