Singer-songwriter Vicci Martinez has been traveling so much in the last year that she’s given up unpacking at her Los Angeles home.
“I leave a suitcase out all the time,” the Tacoma native said in a recent phone interview. “It’s just easier for me to get my clothes.”
Martinez, 28, spent the last year touring and visiting radio stations to promote her soulful and blues-inspired pop album, “Vicci,” and its single, “Come Along.”
Martinez, a finalist on the first season of the NBC talent show “The Voice,” will return home this weekend for a New Year’s Eve show at Tacoma’s Jazzbones. On Jan. 8 and 9, she’ll play Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle.
“Come Along,” featuring vocals from her “Voice” coach CeeLo Green, is currently No. 34 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart, sandwiched between Carrie Underwood and Passion Pit.
The road up the charts was a rocky one for Martinez.
“At first it didn’t look like it was a going to do very well,” Martinez said. “Then, at the end of the summer, some really influential stations picked it up.”
It wasn’t luck that the song suddenly got airplay. Chalk it up to old-fashioned shoe leather and tire treads.
“My manager Beth (Tallman) said, ‘We’re getting in the car and we’re just going to go. Any station that wants us we’ll visit’,” Martinez recalled. “But you can’t make them play it. That has to happen on its own.”
The plan worked. The stations’ de facto endorsements sent the signal that Martinez’s and Green’s collaboration was worth some airtime. Now, “Come Along” is the biggest airplay single to come from any contestant out of “The Voice.”
Why has the public responded to it?
“It’s a little bit different than what’s being played on the radio right now,” Martinez said. “The hook stays in your head.”
“Come Along” almost didn’t get released as the first single. Martinez said others in her circle urged her to make other, more conventional choices as the first release. But Martinez insisted on “Come Along.”
“That was my instinct and I’m glad I followed that,” she said. “I didn’t budge from that.”
Martinez said she expects singles from the second season’s contestants to soon climb the charts — a reflection of the show’s increasing popularity.
“The show’s gotten way bigger and I feel like it’s stepped up a notch, but it’s held on to its authentic vibe,” Martinez said. She visited the show on several occasions during its just concluded third season.
Martinez gets home to Tacoma about every six weeks to spend time with friends and family. On this time, she’s adding some shows.
“Last time (at Jazzbones), it was promoting my album,” she said. “This time I want to have a party and celebrate what the year has been.”
On Martinez’s set list will be some favorite songs she’s always wanted to cover. She said she might have to set up an iPad loaded with lyrics if she hasn’t learned them in time.
“It’s going to be my karaoke night,” she said.
For her show at Jazz Alley she’s going to let her fans choose the set list via social media.
Martinez said she’s weathering the roller coaster ride of the entertainment business better, but it’s still an uncomfortable place to be. Nevertheless, she said, “I’ve realized in this business that if you are comfortable, then you are not going anywhere.”
Her trade is extremely competitive, Martinez said, often reducing artists to mere products.
“You have to remember that you are human, that you are a soul,” she said.
One way she remembers that is by connecting with her fans.
“There’s something that brings us together,” she said. “There’s a relatableness.”
And there’s always her roots.
“A lot of people ask me what it’s like growing up in the Northwest and I say, “It’s real. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and you don’t have to apologize for that.”
Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541 email@example.com