Archive for March 17th, 2009

Get to Know Vicci Martinez: Tacoma News Tribune Article

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Charting her course

In Vicci Martinez’s world, creative freedom and long-term happiness always trumps shortcuts to stardom.
That’s why the singer-songwriter opted out of an appearance on the inaugural season of “American Idol,” wary of the hit show’s contractual restrictions. (And she returned to reality TV in 2003, anyway, with a pair of appearances on “Star Search.”)

In 2007, Martinez was seemingly on the brink of a commercial breakthrough again when she signed with manager Bill Leopold. His most high-profile client is Melissa Etheridge, a rock star who Martinez often drew comparisons with when she was getting started.

But Martinez walked away from that deal last year, too, instead opting for the creative freedom that recording new CD, “From the Outside In,” on her own dime afforded.

“It’s kind of that story again of I could have been on ‘American Idol,’ but I said no,” said Martinez, 24. “And I’m happier that way.”

Martinez said she and Leopold had different ideas on what she needed to record to get to the next level. Ultimately, Martinez and her band – drummer Darin Watkins, bassist Jeff Leonard, guitarist Rod Cook and keyboard player Eric Roberts – parted ways with Leopold, determined to record songs they had written and were passionate about.

“The band and I have gotten closer now by doing this project alone,” Martinez said. “The guys are excited for me to take it on and be confident enough that we can do it. They definitely were excited about the management deal, but they wanted to see progress. But they weren’t seeing any, and neither was I.”

The new album showcases an increasingly eclectic sound, with soul, blues, country and even a bit of reggae incorporated into its rootsy tapestry.

“Everybody got to put their little flavor in it as the songs were being written,” Martinez said. “I can do my stuff solo or whatever. But I always go back to Dave Matthews, and I love his unit that he’s got goin’ on right there. And I just wanted to apply that to my band and give them the opportunity to showcase their style.”

Among the songs that are most personal to Martinez are “Rain,” an acoustic ballad that closes the CD. Martinez said she sang it at her father’s bedside when he was dying of cancer in 2005 but lost the lyrics and didn’t return to it again until last summer.

“I think I kind of put them away subconsciously on purpose,” Martinez said. “I just didn’t want to go back to it. It was kind of an intense song. Like, I could never sing it and not cry, so I just didn’t even want to go there. And then I felt when I decided to let go of that myself, things that were hindering me, it just came into my head. So I just rewrote some of the lyrics, and used some of the ones I used with him.”

Martinez unveiled the new songs for Tacoma fans on Friday at Jazzbones (many having been set staples for two years.) Her next Tacoma performances are schedule for March 25 and April 8 at The Swiss downtown.

And don’t be surprised if you hear her on the big screen in the near future, too. Martinez recently returned from a songwriting jaunt to San Francisco, where she collaborated with Bay Area performer Blair Hansen on material that may appear in “Mosquito y Mari,” an independent film directed by Aurora Guerrero.