Vicci Martinez isn't worried about the rules.
The singer-songwriter continually goes against the grain both musically and lyrically. She doesn't adhere to guidelines of what pop music is supposed to be or how it should be presented. Given her penchant for writing honest, heartfelt songs, she doesn't have to either. When she hits the studio or the stage, she nods to soulful folk and classic rock with an immortal R&B groove beneath everything. On her forthcoming debut album for Universal Republic Records, VICCI, the world will get to see Vicci for who she is, and it might just be a better place because of it.
Her genuine spirit courses through the fabric of every song she writes on the album. Whether it's a revealing autobiographical ballad or a groove-driven rocker, the music ebbs and flows with a raw and real fire from the energy of "Come Along" to the honesty of "Let Go." Vicci's been working toward this for her whole life.
For as long as she can remember, she knew that she would play music. After her older sister gave up violin, she picked it up at six-years-old, taking proper lessons for five years. Eventually, she traded the violin for a guitar and began writing songs driven by diverse influences ranging from Led Zeppelin and The Beatles to Sarah McLachlan and Gloria Estefan.
Impressed by the first song she wrote, her dad decided it was time for his daughter to pursue music more seriously. He'd bring the young Vicci to local Tacoma, Washington farmer's markets in order to play impromptu. She'd open up her case or put a hat out, and audiences would watch stunned by her powerful voice and presence.
After spending high school honing her talents, she began releasing music independently in 2003. Touring the country for almost a decade, she released seven independent albums culminating with 2011's Live from Jazzbones. Along the way, she shared stages with everyone from Sting and Annie Lennox to The Supersuckers and Jonny Lang.
However, NBC's television show The Voice came calling in early 2011, and that opened doors for the next phase of her career.
"They asked me to try out, and I really didn't want to do it at first," the artist reveals. "I did Star Search in 2003 and had tried out for American Idol. I decided to give it a chance though. The fact that the show is called The Voice was so much deeper to me. It wasn't simply about my singing voice but what I have to say. I was in the right place at the right time. I took every song on the show and made it my own, and I didn't let myself get pulled in any direction. I did what came naturally."
That's precisely why she landed in the show's top four after riveting and roaring performances of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and an explosive duet with coach Cee Lo Green of Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield". However, it was her stunning live performances of “Jolene” and “Dog Days Are Over” as well as the original song that was written for her, “Afraid To Sleep,” where she shined the brightest. Vicci's robust delivery of these tune's made the tracks instant hits online.. She also began to resonate with listeners everywhere as a group of young female fans banded together to assemble the Vicci Martinez Army in honor of her.
On VICCI, she does exactly that. "Come Along" sees Martinez engaged in an unforgettable and undeniable duet with Voice coach CeeLo Green. About the song she says, "I think the lyrics are really important for people today, especially for our generation. I feel this is a step that I’ve been trying to take and by singing this song. I’m asking everyone else to come along with me and take a stand."
"I Can Love" delivers a positive declaration of feeling. In many ways, the song encapsulates her personal ethos. "Everything I do is based on love," observes Martinez. This song is about empowerment and to remind us that we do have hearts and we should use them."
Her heart beats loudly on the album closer "Little Faith". It's intimately i
Eric Robert - Piano
Darrin Watkins - Drums
Jeff Leonard - Bass
Rod Cook - Guitar
Vicci Martinez "VMB" January 2000
Vicci Martinez "Sleep to Dream" January 2003
Vicci Martinez "On My Way" January 2005
Vicci Martinez Band (Live at the Triple Door ) DVD 2006
Vicci Martinez "I Could Be A Boxer" January 2007
Vicci Martinez "From The Outside In" January 2009
Vicci Martinez "I Love You In The Morning" January 2010
Vicci Martinez "Live From Jazzbones" January 2011
Vicci Martinez "Come Along" EP May 1, 2012
Vicci Martinez "Vicci" June 19, 20122
A New Age of Music? Vicci Martinez Brings Classic Sound To a Modern Time
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The Triple Door peaks above rainy hills in the downtown streets of Seattle. It's one of Seattle's ...
The Triple Door peaks above rainy hills in the downtown streets of Seattle. It's one of Seattle's most visited of late nightspots. I myself have been there on four occasions over the past two and a half years, and I have no doubt that I would have been there far earlier if I had known I would see so many artists I would come to appreciate and watch for years to come--artists like Vicci Martinez.
As a musician myself, I have come to appreciate sound. In general I think the use of sound within instruments is fascinating, and there is no end to the variety of types of sounds and harmonies you can make and perform musically. So why does mainstream music these days seem so limited?
Sure there are the occasional bands that pop out in your mind, that you blast your speakers for in your car and make occasional comments about to friends. But in general, we have all found our niche, our one radio station, our set of a few CDs we rotate through, and we laugh at the occasional Britney Spears type appearing so gracefully in the headlines. We've somehow set into a rut, a nice one, but a rut just the same. We depend on the few artists who offer something different, to withstand the battling world of Simon Cowel, that dude Biz Marquis who sang "Baby You, You Got What I Need," and the many actresses-turned-pop-singer. Luckily, there are still some artists like Vicci Martinez, who want to excel and are willing to endure the criticism and pressures in the industry.
Vicci Martinez surpassed all my expectations. I realize that sometimes we forgive one component of an artist if it hardly compares to their far better attributes. But in Vicci's case, however, there were none to forgive. When Vicki took the stage, the audience saw a woman no taller than 5'3", wearing baggy jeans and a loose t-shirt. She walked on with utter confidence and no apologies, said a few words, let the band play a few rifts, then…opened her mouth and let out a voice I could describe as nothing less soulful than that of Ella Fitzgerald with the melodic entertainment value of Stevie Wonder. She was not one of the blonde, long-legged beauties that we see on magazines, but somehow that hardly seemed to matter.
Perhaps this is because the meaning behind the music has been lost, and few recognize the talent in an instrument's use. Sadly there are way too many in-studio artists today who continue to parade their electronic instruments and cut tracks in our faces. The few musicians who last to stand up against the demons of the music future make - sadly - a very short list. The lasting bands last because they are able to bring their talent from earlier years and apply it to a modern day genre. For example, the Eagles are bringing rock to country, and the Rolling Stones, even with their crazy career, have managed to stay together and keep rocking, bringing their music to a modern platform.
My hope now lies in artists like Vicci Martinez--artists still making an effort in a ridiculous media world. My hope is that at some point the artists who have given us hope will be able to break through more in the industry and become mainstream. In the overwhelming world of more and more of the same boring artists in the lime light, it is refreshing and encouraging to see that, once and a while, an artist comes along that mixes things up. Vicci's 4th album, "On My Way," came out in 2005, and she has toured practically non-stop since. She has opened for the likes of Sting, Annie Lenox, BB King, Christopher Cross, Etta James, The Presidents of the United States of America, Avril Lavigne, and Bill Frisell. She continues to stop by The Triple Door on her tours, while still engaging many audiences all over the United States with her ever changing, ever different, rock-blues-country-soulful sound. Although an acoustic singer/songwriter based performer, her instrumental performances brought out everything from piano to harmonica. At the moment she is touring the Northwest, but no doubt, we haven't seen the last of her yet.
Marissa Joy-Kurtz is originally from Seattle. An accomplished vocalist and song writer, Marissa is currently completing her degree in journalism in upstate New York.
6th Annual Summer Meltdown Festival
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RELIX - The Magazine for Musicians Thursday / October 19, 2006 / Seattle, WA By Alex Anderson ...RELIX - The Magazine for Musicians
Thursday / October 19, 2006 / Seattle, WA
By Alex Anderson
...Friday dawned bright and warm, an early-morning dip in a frigid mountain stream backstage being the perfect way to shock yourself awake. A couple of standout performances during the day from TapHabit, DJ Postal and Panda Conspiracy were a prelude to a solid, funked-up, stripped-down and kicking set from the diminutive talents of Vicci Martinez out of Tacoma, WA. Whether banging out percussive acoustic melodies, or strapping on a djembe, this barefooted dervish had the crowd whipped up to a storm. The ambient jazz guitar of Bill Frisell and guests came next, a change of pace that was perhaps unwelcome by some after the manic energy of Martinez. Frisell is a legend by any measure and his original compositions led the crowd on a merry auditory trip, jazzed versions of Lucinda Williams tunes being a nice little touch. The March Fourth Marching Band closed the main stage with infectious stage antics and 35-plus members rollicking through an Afrobeat infused percussion marathon. Late-night action centered around the Boogie Dome with DJ’s spinning through the night, including an astounding set from KJ Sawka, performing a live drum and bass set without any loops or samples. Nice!
Vicci Martinez Brings Down The House
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Vicci Martinez, December 29th, 2007, The Triple Door, Seattle, Washington With all due respe...
Vicci Martinez, December 29th, 2007, The Triple Door, Seattle, Washington
With all due respect, towards the many great artists and bands that Riveting Riffs had an opportunity to review during 2007, the best was saved until the very end. Vicci Martinez, a twenty-three year old Tacoma, Washington native brought down the house with virtually every song she performed on December 29th, at Seattle’s The Triple Door. The petite acoustic guitarist and her band put on a spectacular performance as they moved through southern rock, Memphis blues and gritty rock numbers, throughout the evening. The fact that this is a dinner venue did not stop a makeshift mosh pit from forming as Martinez’s fans danced to her music.
Martinez was undeniably powerful as she served up the opening song “Matchbox,” and equally passionate in her delivery of the southern rock song, “Angel,” a tune on which she sounds eerily like Melissa Etheridge.
Performing professionally since her mid-teens, Martinez possesses incredible stage presence, and her energy acts as a magnet for her adoring fans, as she romps and rocks around the stage in her bare feet and blue jeans. She treats the stage as though it is her personal playground and the songs as though they are toys, sometimes to be held close and cherished, while at other times to be played with loudly, as the notes come crashing together. She can work herself into a Janis Joplin like frenzy as her eyes roll back into her head, or become soulful and quieter when she sings, “Beekeeper,” a song that considers the risks and temptations of love.
While Martinez is an accomplished acoustic guitar player, there is no denying that her greatest attributes are as a powerful songwriter who brings her lyrics to life with emotive vocals. Martinez does not sing like a twenty-three year old, but more like someone, twice her age who has many life experiences to draw upon (which she does). She reaches deep within her soul to deliver “Taste Of Heaven,” a song she dedicated to all those who have lost a loved one. She is able to draw upon two heart wrenching times in her own life, the first, the death of her father in recent years, and the second the heartbreak of love.
During our interview with Vicci Martinez, which will appear later this month, she proudly proclaimed that nobody can ever put a label on her music, because it has so many dimensions and layers to it. She can be country rock with tunes like “Hungry Little Sheep,” which features Ryan Smith’s awesome electric keyboard chops, accompanied by scintillating guitar licks from electric man Rod Cook. She can also transform herself into John Fogarty in a woman’s body, as she belts out a southern rock line. She wielded spectacular guitar riffs, and stomped her feet as she performed “Leave The Lights On.”
Just when you think you have Martinez figured out, she takes a seat at the piano, and sings the smoldering love song, “Let’s Pretend,” and follows it a few songs later with the passionate “You’re Not Alone.” She dips her paintbrush into the palette of life to color with emotion
She once again dips her paintbrush into the palette of life to color with emotion the line, “Don’t trust me to love you, I’ll break your heart, and my own,” from her new song “Don’t Trust Me.”
Vicci Martinez is standing on the edge of greatness, and we have every reason to believe that 2008 will be her breakout year. She is backed by a very talented group of musicians that in addition to the ones already mentioned includes, drummer Darin Watkins and bass guitarist Jeff Leonard.
If you want to hear some great music, visit the Vicci Martinez myspace site. She returns to Seattle on February 23rd to perform at The Showbox Theater.
Vicci Martinez at Bumbershoot
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While I was checking out Neko Case's stellar performance at Memorial Stadium, my talented and always...While I was checking out Neko Case's stellar performance at Memorial Stadium, my talented and always well dressed boss Ron Swarner was taking in Tacoma's own Vicci Martinez on the Starbucks Stage. While - believe it or not - Swarner had to blow this joint for a godforsaken barbecue in Carnation of all places, he was nice enough to leave me his notes from the Vicci Martinez action.According to Swarner, Martinez's performance was everything T-Town has come to expect from our short but uber-talented songstress. Bare feet. Energy. And a lot of "jam.""This show felt awesome," said Darin Watkins, drummer for the Vicci Martinez band. "I hope it sounded OK out there. It felt good back here."« Bumbershoot so far... | Main | Tech problems and Mono in VCF at Bumbershoot »
August 30, 2008
Vicci Martinez at Bumbershoot
MATT DRISCOLL: SWARNER GAVE ME HIS NOTES >>>
While I was checking out Neko Case's stellar performance at Memorial Stadium, my talented and always well dressed boss Ron Swarner was taking in Tacoma's own Vicci Martinez on the Starbucks Stage. While - believe it or not - Swarner had to blow this joint for a godforsaken barbecue in Carnation of all places, he was nice enough to leave me his notes from the Vicci Martinez action.
According to Swarner, Martinez's performance was everything T-Town has come to expect from our short but uber-talented songstress. Bare feet. Energy. And a lot of "jam."
"This show felt awesome," said Darin Watkins, drummer for the Vicci Martinez band. "I hope it sounded OK out there. It felt good back here."
While Martinez's mom and sister watched Vicci do her thing from the comfort of the grass, a packed in crowd got as close as they could to the action - which proved perfect for a sunnier than expected afternoon.
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Vicci Martinez was born and raised in Tacoma, and continues to live there. It doesn't sound like tha...Vicci Martinez was born and raised in Tacoma, and continues to live there. It doesn't sound like that's about to change, either.
"I don't know if I'll ever leave," she said.
She picked up a violin for the first time at 5, and since has added keyboard, drums and guitar to her list of abilities. Early on, she found herself in front of the choir, then in talent competitions (winning), and then recording. Her first step on stage was fewer than 10 years ago but she truly is a natural performer.
There is no attitude of "musician's arrogance" when the barefoot, petite, casually dressed local comes on the stage. The concert venue might be packed, but she flashes a warm smile like an old friend has walked in; making you feel as comfortable in your skin as you know she is in hers.
"I don't have regrets / I love my state of mind" — a line from her song "Given," from the album "On My Way," addresses an attitude that comes from her own lifestyle.
After one of many recent local concerts, Martinez and I posted up at the edge of the stage and she clued me in on how she tries to approach every relationship in her life, "Loving that person no matter what."
The loving attitude makes you comfortable in her presence, because she will sit you down and be real and honest with you.
Knowing me for two minutes, Martinez began telling about what her father was like before he passed, her relationship with her mother, and having her first drink at 13.
"People relate if they know you have stinky s***," she said.
Martinez remembers encouraging words from her father, "'Girl, I'm a plumber and you're a musician, there's no difference. You take care of people's s*** and I take care of people's s***.'"
The trick, Martinez said, is to "Try to be, as much as possible, real with people."
This mantra is not only exhibited in her work, but also shared in her friends-band members.
Rod Cook, Jeff Leonard, and Darin Watkins have stuck by her and know and reciprocate her attitude towards music.
Martinez said, "It (music) makes people feel good."
She described her relationship with band members as friends, not coworkers or employees.
When just starting out, Martinez juggled band members, and every performance seemed inconsistent, owing to the constant shuffling.
Her current band has been together for 2½ years.
After the show, guitarist Cook congratulated Vicci on the performance and how smoothly it went down. Their age difference is easily 35 years, and they've traveled their own journeys to where they are now.
But they discussed music and concerts with the mentality that they were coming from the same level all along.
Martinez conversed with band members straight on and demanded reality from those around her. Even random hotel guests who offered Vicci a beer and a place to party later received the same honest treatment as her good friends.
The view of herself and the world has had a major impact on the way Martinez lives her life and plays her music.
"I don't think of myself as a boy or a girl," she said, "I think of myself as a Vicci."
Despite the fact that gigs and work might take up some of her time, she remembers a key element.
"In order to write songs, I have to live life, balancing," she said.
"I feel like I have to do something for the world, that kind of healing out-of-body experience."
Martinez' love and enthusiasm about life is what inspires her music, like these lyrics from "Sunshine," another song on "On My Way:" "Love is the only way to bring sunshine tomorrow / sing out troubles be gone, sunshine take me on my way."
"Those people whose music does nothing for you — eh, it's just a hobby," she said.
During Martinez' performance at Suquamish Clearwater Casino, children danced gaily in front of the stage and crowds of people eagerly waited to get autographs.
Her connection with the people around her makes the fine lines among stage and audience and fan and friend evaporate.
"Keep it simple," she said, "and when you do that, the blessings just come."
Vicci Martinez Band
Where: The Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Danny Godinez opens)
Tickets: $15 advance, $18 door
Information: (206) 838-4333, thetripledoor.net
180 minutes of Original Music
There are no upcoming dates at this time.