Tacoma native and Voice alumna Vicci Martinez set for two Puget Sound shows
Its been more than a year since Vicci Martinez taught the rest of the nation what Tacomans had long known: Dont underestimate The Warrior.
Viewers of the first season of the NBC talent show The Voice were mesmerized by Martinezs voice and the energy coming from the diminuitive Tacoma native. They propelled her to third place on the season finale.
Martinez, who now lives in Los Angeles, returns to Puget Sound this weekend for two shows on the eve of the debut of her first post-Voice album. The self-titled Vicci on the Universal Republic label comes out Tuesday. The performances are part of a nine-stop tour that began Wednesday in Portland.
Opening for Martinez on the tour is Jamar Rogers, a contestant on the second season of The Voice.
THE NEW ALBUM
Its been a long time coming. Its taken me a year to get it put out there, Martinez said about her album during a phone interview from her rented California home last week.
The album was completed several months ago, but the release was delayed when Martinez decided to add another song. It now has 11 with two more songs available on iTunes.
Martinez calls the new album a soulful and blues-inspired pop record.
Some of the songs are electronicy, she said. She worked with beats and uptempo because she had access to studio resources for the first time in her life.
I had it available to me. When I made my own records, I just had a band go in there (to a studio) because thats all I could afford. ... Just pop em out.
Martinez said the album reflects wheres shes been and where she is going. Just like every album Ive made, Im standing behind it.
A driving force behind the new album is the previously released single, Come Along, with CeeLo Green, her coach on The Voice. Green had said on the show that he wanted to work with Martinez, and he came through.
I never forced him to do anything, she said. I played the song and he thought the track was great, thankfully.
Greens approach to the single mirrored his style on the show, Martinez said. He let me do my thing. He was the same way on the show. He didnt have much of an opinion. He just said, Be proud of it.
Its the only song on the album that she didnt write. She heard it in Sweden while writing songs with Peter Svensson, the guitar player for The Cardigans. Svensson had written the song, but never released it in the United States. On a whim, he played it for her.
I liked the music. I liked the lyrics, Martinez recalls. It was meant to be. The song has a message about taking a stand in challenging times.
LIFE AFTER THE VOICE
As the third place finisher on The Voice, Martinez got nothing for her efforts except for the one thing money cant buy: It gave me access to a bigger audience.
That fan base led her to the contract with Universal Republic. The past year has been a major adjustment for Martinez, who previosuly didnt have people involved in her career decisions.
Ive never been used to that. Its different putting your career in the hands of a large group of people, Martinez said. But the experience has been positive. Theyve let me have huge control over the project.
Martinez first gained the attention of musicians, critics and the public while a student at Stadium High School. Shes never had another path, or any doubt where her life was headed, even though she lived from gig to gig, paycheck to paycheck, for years.
Thats what got me to this point because I never had that thought, Martinez said of giving up.
So now is it a life of personal assistants and nonstop Hollywood parties? Hardly, Martinez said.
Its still a struggle. You cant hold on to that stuff. The only thing you can hold on to is the music you create.
Its not that Martinez didnt have other opportunities to give her career a boost. She opted out of an appearance on the inaugural season of American Idol, wary of the hit shows contractual restrictions. She returned to reality TV in 2003 with a pair of appearances on Star Search.
Though The Voice has propelled her career to the next level and given her some celebrity, Martinez said she doesnt let any of that go to her head.
The show was on a year ago, so I feel most people dont even remember, she said. Theyre on to the next thing. So I take that with a grain of salt. And then in L.A., you see a lot of (famous) people.
Though shes had her share of elbow rubbing with fellow celebrities and artists, she keeps her nose to the grindstone.
Im just trying to deliver a record. Its been cool to meet people. Youve seen them on TV or wherever. But at the end of day, I just want to make music.
During Martinezs appearances on The Voice, the national and entertainment press began to take notice of her. A continuing theme, even the subject of some stories, was that she and fellow finalist Beverly McClellan were both lesbians.
Martinez didnt make any proclamations or announcements about her orientation and is still a bit puzzled by the attention. But she didnt try to hide her sexuality either.
Ive never not told anybody. It was no big story for me, she said.
Martinez first came out in high school. I went up to a girl and said, Youre pretty. Thats when everyone found out. I told my parents and then my friends and everyone just said, Yeah, I figured.
The day after this interview with The News Tribune, Martinez was going to sing a song with McClellan at LA Pride her first pride event.
At tonights show at The Showbox and Sundays show at Jazzbones, expect to hear a faithful reproduction of her new album, Martinez said. She has a new music director, Aron Forbes, to reproduce the full instrumentation and vocals.
I hired him because theres a lot of tracks and I wanted you to be able to hear what you hear on the album, she said.
Though shes making no money off of the tour, she had other motivations. I want to come to town and do the album justice. This aint no half-assed show.
After the tour, expect to see Martinez working with other music industry partners. Once something of an iconoclast, Martinez said she now loves collaborating.
You get things done a lot quicker if you are open to it, she said. I learned a lot about writing and production on this album.
Though she acknowledges she tweaked her style to appeal to a broader audience, Martinez said the music fans hear is still all hers.
Im not going to do anything that I dont trust.