Margaret Urlich

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Margaret Urlich
Urlich performing live in Hawkes Bay, 2008. Photograph by Tim Whittaker.
Urlich performing live in Hawkes Bay, 2008. Photograph by Tim Whittaker.
Background information
Birth nameMargaret Mary Urlich
Born (1965-01-24) 24 January 1965 (age 56)
Auckland, New Zealand
GenresRock, pop, new wave, jazz
Years active1985–present
LabelsCBS, Sony, Columbia

Margaret Mary Urlich[1] (born 24 January 1965) is an ARIA Award-winning[2] New Zealand musician based in New South Wales, Australia. Urlich moved to Sydney in 1988 to pursue her singing career. Her debut solo album, Safety in Numbers, released in 1989, was highly successful and won "Breakthrough Artist – Album" at the 1991 ARIA Awards.[2] Its follow-up Chameleon Dreams was also a success when released in 1992. Urlich has been successful trans-Tasman, selling over 400,000 albums during her career, ranking her as one of New Zealand's most successful recording artists. She is the cousin of fellow New Zealand singer Peter Urlich.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Margaret Urlich began her career as the vocalist for the new wave group Peking Man with her brother Pat, Tim Calder, Perry Marshall, Jan Foulkes, Neville Hall, John Fearon and Jay F-bula. Peking Man won the 1984 Shazam! Battle of The Bands (a TVNZ pop show), and had a number of hit songs in New Zealand, "Good Luck to You", which reached No. 6, "Lift Your Head Up High", reaching No. 21 and the number one, "Room That Echoes", in 1985.[4]

Later she was a member of an all-girl pop group in New Zealand called When The Cat's Away. Urlich moved to Australia during the late 1980s and released her solo debut album, Safety in Numbers, in 1989. The album peaked at No. 4 on the New Zealand album charts[5] and No. 5 on the Australian album charts[6] and went triple platinum in Australia.

Urlich won an ARIA Award in 1991 for "Best Breakthrough Artist".[7]

In 1990, Urlich, previously mostly unknown outside of New Zealand, provided backing vocals on a track for Australian artist Daryl Braithwaite on his second solo album, Rise, which was released late 1990. The song she featured in was the Rickie Lee Jones ballad "The Horses", which was a No. 1 hit for Braithwaite.[8] The video clip featured Braithwaite singing on a beach, with a model (riding a horse), lip-syncing Urlich's voice. Urlich chose not to appear in Braithwaite's film clip as she had just released Safety in Numbers and was working to establish herself as a solo artist.

In March 1991, Urlich, armed with a half-million-dollar recording budget, returned to the studio to commence pre-production for her second album, Chameleon Dreams, with English writer/producer Robyn Smith, the man behind her highly successful debut. By mid-year, Urlich and Smith had entered Sydney's 301 Studios to record their two songs, plus a third track written by Smith and Barry Blue. The same team had been responsible for two of the tracks on Safety in Numbers ("Escaping" and "Guilty People") and their latest offering, "Boy in the Moon", proved pivotal to the sound of the new album. Other tracks were collected by travelling around the world.

Urlich went to London to co-write with writers such as Rob Fisher with whom she wrote the album's title track, "Chameleon Dreams". She then went on to Los Angeles, where she met with Grammy Award-winning writer/producer Ian Prince with whom she wrote two songs for the album and he produced four tracks. She returned to London again, where she co-wrote a number of songs with Simon Law and Tony Swain before completing the project with three tracks produced by Swain.

The success of Chameleon Dreams earned Urlich the "Best Selling New Zealand Artist of the Year" award at the 1992 World Music Awards in Monte Carlo. She attended the awards ceremony and performed "Love Train".

In 1993, Urlich was part of Export Music Australia (EMA) and Austrade's second Wizards of Oz promotion. She toured Japan with fellow singer Rick Price and the group Yothu Yindi. Urlich and Dale Barlow recorded a version of "I've Got You Under My Skin" for Kate Ceberano's 1994 album Kate Ceberano and Friends.

She spent much of 1994 living back in New Zealand and appeared as Mary Magdalene in a major concert production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Urlich released a version of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" which reached No. 44 on the New Zealand singles charts.[5]

For her third album, The Deepest Blue, Urlich returned to her long-standing partnership with British writer/producer Robyn Smith. She and Smith co-wrote all but two of the tracks on the album. The Deepest Blue was released in August 1995 but failed to have the same impact as her previous two albums, reaching No. 18 on the New Zealand charts[5] and No. 17 on the Australian charts.[6]

In 1998, her contract with Sony Music having expired, she moved to the Southern Highlands of New South Wales where she set up home and a new recording studio with her partner. Here she produced her fourth album, Second Nature, a recording project produced by Eddie Rayner from Split Enz that was recorded on and off over 12 months and involved musicians from Australia and New Zealand. The album comprised cover versions of some of Urlich's favourite NZ songs that she grew up with. These included artists like Split Enz, Crowded House, Dave Dobbyn, Max Merritt, Shona Laing, Don McGlashan and Tim Finn. The album was released in New Zealand in 1999 and reached No. 11 on the charts, achieving platinum status. This is her last studio album to date.[5]

Ulrich made a special guest performance on series 1, episode 6 of The Micallef Program, performing a comical duet of the Carly Simon classic "You're So Vain" with Shaun Micallef.


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
Safety in Numbers
  • Released: 11 August 1989
  • Label: CBS Records Australia (465652 2)
  • Format: LP, cassette, CD
4 5
Chameleon Dreams
  • Released: 25 September 1992
  • Label: Columbia (472118-2)
  • Released: LP, cassette, CD
18 5
The Deepest Blue
  • Released: July 1995
  • Label: Columbia (478315-2)
  • Format: Cassette, CD
18 17
Second Nature
  • Released: May 1999
  • Label: Sony Music NZ (491251-2)
  • Format: CD
11 N/A
  • NZ: Platinum
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albums[edit]

List of live albums
Title Details
  • Released: 1994
  • Label: Columbia (474455-2)
  • Format: CD
  • Recorded in 1992/1993 during Chameleon Dreams tour


Year Title Peak chart
1989 "Escaping" 1 17 Safety in Numbers
1990 "Only My Heart Calling" 46
"Number One (Remember When We Danced All Night)" 10 24
1991 "Guilty People / Give Me Some Credit" 99
1992 "Boy in the Moon" 9 21 Chameleon Dreams
"Human Race" 55
1993 "(I Don't Want to Be) Second Best" 39 132
"Burnt Sienna" 33
"Man Overboard" 127
"Where Is the Love" (with Rick Price) 31 Live
1994 "I Don't Know How to Love Him" 44 Jesus Christ Superstar: New Zealand Cast Recording
"All by Myself" 26 100 Non-album single
1995 "Gonna Make You Mine" 29 The Deepest Blue
"Every Little Thing" 50
1996 "All for the Love" 148
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Awards and nominations[edit]

ARIA Music Awards[edit]

The ARIA Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony that recognises excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of Australian music. They commenced in 1987.

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1991 Safety in Numbers Breakthrough Artist - Album Won
Album of the Year Nominated
Best Female Artist Nominated
1993 Chameleon Dreams Best Female Artist Nominated
1994 "Burnt Sienna" Best Female Artist Nominated
"Where Is the Love?" (with Rick Price) Best Adult Contemporary Album Nominated

New Zealand Music Awards[edit]

The New Zealand Music Awards are an annual awards night celebrating excellence in New Zealand music and have been presented annually since 1965.

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1985 Margaret Urlich Female Vocalist of the Year Won [10]
1986 Margaret Urlich Female Vocalist of the Year Won
1989 Margaret Urlich Female Vocalist of the Year Won
Safety in Numbers Album of the Year Won
Polly Walker and Debbie Watson for Safety in Numbers Album Cover of the Year Won
"Escaping" Single of the Year Won
1990 Margaret Urlich Female Vocalist of the Year Won
Margaret Urlich International Achievement Nominated
"Number One (Remember When We Danced All Night)" Single of the Year Nominated
2000 Kimberley Renwick for Second Nature Album Cover of the Year Nominated

World Music Awards[edit]

The World Music Awards is an international award show founded in 1989 under the patronage of Albert II, Prince of Monaco and co-founder/executive producer John Martinotti.

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1992 Margaret Urlich Best Selling New Zealand Artist of the Year Won


  1. ^ "ASCAP - ACE search engine results". American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b "1991 ARIA Award winners". Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  3. ^ "Margaret Urlich - AudioCulture".
  4. ^ " > Peking Man in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f " > Margaret Urlich in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Australian (ARIA) chart peaks:
  7. ^ "ARAI Awards - Margaret Urlich". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  8. ^ "Daryl Braithwaite - The Horses". Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  9. ^ a b Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 290.
  10. ^ "Aotearoa Music Awards". Retrieved 18 August 2021.

External links[edit]