Lloyd Marcus At age 42, singer Lloyd Marcus knows stardom is a long shot. But not to worry, he says. He's met difficult challenges before.
Namely, a 19-year battle with alcohol.
Five years ago, Mr. Marcus was drinking a fifth of vodka a day and losing control of his life. With the help of his wife, Mary Parker, however, he entered a treatment center, and 28 days later left alcohol-free.
To thank her, he wrote his first song, "When I Look in Your Eyes," and entered it in a Billboard magazine songwriting contest. When it made it to the semifinals, a would-be star was born.
Since then, the fedora-wearing balladeer -- whose fans compare him to Nat King Cole and Luther Vandross -- has performed everywhere from Pier Six to the Waxter Center. (On Dec. 5, he'll try out new love songs at the BAUhouse.) And he's now able to call the disease "the worst thing and the best thing that's ever happened to me."
His favorite venues have become hospitals, alcoholism treatment centers and high schools, where he delivers a message that inspires his own work: "When you take charge of your life, good things happen."
Nearly $35,000 from his job as a graphic designer for WJZ-TV has been funneled into hiring a Hollywood agent, making a demo tape and doing a TV special he hopes to sell. But even if the Linthicum resident never sees his name in lights, he'll have no regrets, he says.
"I don't consider it work," he says. "It's my heart. It's who I am."
For Connie Crabtree, the road to culinary success had a lumpy beginning. With, would you believe, Aunt Jemima pancakes?
She laughs at the thought of herself as a 9-year-old struggling over a mixing bowl. "I came from the kind of family where it was typical on Sundays to roll out a pan of biscuits and put up a few jars of jelly," says the 41-year-old Arkansas native, who now lives in Otterbein.
Today, as the executive chef of Pier 500, the recently opened restaurant in the HarborView condominium and marina development, she has created an eclectic menu (Oolong tea-smoked duck, polenta shrimp toast) that proves she's come far from her humble just-add-milk-and-stir beginnings.
But since entering the local restaurant scene nearly 20 years ago -- and making her mark at places such as Cacao Lane, the John Eager Howard Room and Crabtree's -- innovative has often been a word associated with the Jacques Pepin-trained chef.
Yet after a difficult divorce spelled the demise of Crabtree's, she left the business and entered the food wholesaling industry.
The relative tranquillity of that world ended, however, when HarborView developers approached her. They offered her nearly carte blanche with the restaurant and the title of vice president and general manager of the yacht club and marina. Ms. Crabtree couldn't refuse.
Seeing patrons she'd lost touch with has made it worthwhile. "I just had a lady tell me that I put a smile on her stomach," she says. "That's the kind of thing that makes my day."
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