Marianna Zappi instantly charmed the judges of the “X Factor UK” when she auditioned in 2016. When she took the stage, nobody knew what to expect. Her seasoned voice blew them away, but it was her story of survival that touched their hearts.
Zappi said singing saved her life.
Zappi shared that she had been in an abusive relationship for four years. She feared she wouldn’t make it out alive. She dreamed of being a singer but wasn’t sure she would ever have the chance to pursue her dream.
“Music was the only thing that kept me going at that time,” Zappi said. “After four years, I walked out and went to The Women’s Trust. I am very, very lucky. For someone who was caged for so long, freedom feels like a blessing. The tears that you see are not tears of sadness. They’re tears of happiness because I feel free. The past is in the past and I shall not dwell on it anymore!”
As she performed, Zappi couldn’t hold back her tears.
She wasn’t ready to completely open up about her abusive relationship, but she threw herself into her performance.
Zappi’s audition was rife with feeling and passion. As she sang, the judges looked amazed. Some of them even began to cry. Their feedback was glowing.
“I love you to bits,” said judge Nicole Scherzinger. “You’re just awesome. I told myself I wouldn’t cry and then you made me cry! It’s real. You’re very inspiring and I think it’s awesome you’re strong enough to share your story. I think a lot of women can relate to that.”
Even hard-to-impress Simon Cowell had high praise for Zappi’s performance.
“It was beautiful,” Cowell said. “You meant every word. I listened to every word. You have incredible passion when you sing. It meant something. It was real — and you’re real. It all feels right.”
Zappi finally opened up about her past relationship during an interview with the Sun.
She said that she left the relationship in 2010, but not before enduring four years of abuse. She kept it a secret from everyone, even her family and closest friends.
“If I had stayed with him after that, I would be dead,” Zappi said. “I remember one Christmas he kicked me in my back so hard that he lacerated a muscle. At other times he choked me, he put a knife to my throat. He would smash chairs over my back and push my face into the stove while it was on. I thought he was going to kill me. He even said to me once, ‘If you don’t leave, I’m going to kill you.’”
Even after Zappi left, her boyfriend tried to find her.
She thought she was safe, but he eventually found out where she was staying and tried to contact her. She was worried that he might try to hurt her, even though they were no longer together.
“He did try to get back with me from a distance for 18 months after that, though, and I had to leave my home and my friends to escape from him,” Zappi said. “I was too scared at that time to report him to the police, but if he came out of the woodwork now, I would go straight to the police station.”
Now, Zappi’s story of survival fuels her love of music.
She is also an amazingly strong woman. She walked away from a bad situation, even though she was afraid of what might happen when she left. She is in a good place now, and while she will never forget the abuse, she can focus on her music and work toward living her dreams.
Zappi continued on the “X Factor UK,” eventually making it into Sharon Osbourne’s team of “Over 25s.” However, she was cut from the competition during the infamous six-chair challenge.
Now, she’s still singing, having produced her own EPs and performed live in places like London and Rotterdam. Her band, Marianna and the Zappi Band, travels and performs with her. Her Facebook page announced a new EP, “Ancient Cries,” at the start of 2018.
Zappi has inspired many abuse survivors with her story and her vivacious performance, and we hope she continues to chase her dreams.
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