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Australian singer/songwriter Marie Wilson began playing guitar and writing songs as a private extension of her love for music. Her desire to be heard soon outweighed shyness, however, and she began attending songwriting seminars to hone her craft.
Wilson traveled to Los Angeles to further pursue writing and performing , and eventually she connected with Memphis-based producer Joe Hardy, who was impressed enough with Wilson's material that they began recording her songs at his studio. Wilson continued to attend songwriting workshops as they recorded, and she met and collaborated with songwriters such as Jim Vallance and Mark Hudson. The trio penned three songs together, including "Next Time," which charted as a Top 40 hit in Australia and earned Wilson ARIA nominations for Best Australian Debut Single and Best New Artist, as well as 1998's Best New Australian Artist at the Radio Industry Awards. During this time Wilson also gained prominence as a performer, touring with k.d. lang on her 1997 Australian tour, and with the Corrs in 1998.
Wilson returned to Memphis later that year to complete the album, Real Life, and met former Go-Go's member Jane Wiedlin; the duo collaborated on "Making It Up as I Go Along," which was added to the album at the last minute. 1999 saw the U.S. release of the album on Atlantic Records.