Why Vicci Martinez Should Win “The Voice.”

If you’ve been following NBC’s all-star version of American Idol, you already know that next week is the final week of The Voice. Four singers are left competing for the title of  The Voice in this runaway hit- Javier Colon, Beverly McClellan, Dia Frampton and Vicci Martinez. My pick? Ms. Martinez. And, yes, I am completely, utterly biased.

While each of these artists has a “story,” I’ve personally witnessed this true rockrgrl’s transformation from 14-year old cover artist to one of the front-runners on The Voice.

I put on a music conference in Seattle in 2000 and received Vicci’s application to perform – along with 750 other hopefuls. Not surprisingly, Vicci’s stood out from the pack for multiple reasons. Her cover note read: “I am a 14 year old Latina from Tacoma and I would like to play at your conference.” Now that certainly got my attention.  But the proof of the pudding was in the music. Vicci sent along an impressive cassette tape (remember those?) with four songs she had performed live. She also included an unusual photo of her band – Vicci, a female bass player just a couple of years older than Vicci (she cited her main influence as Jaco Pastorius) and two guys in their late 20s – maybe early 30s. It was an incongruous bunch to say the least.

Of course, I popped the cassette into the office boom box immediately and was instantly blown away. Within an hour I had called two close friends – one who had experience managing bands and another who co-wrote songs with the rock band, Heart. “You have GOT to hear this,” I gushed!

A week later I was in Tacoma to check  out Vicci’s live show. She had the same commanding presence she has now. I wished I had known how to manage new acts because I would have jumped on that opportunity if it had been presented. Ah, hindsight!

At the conference, I introduced Vicci to Shannon Curfman – an artist briefly signed to Arista who was the same age. Vicci had already performed Shannon’s  songs in her own show. I remember how excited Vicci was to be in the presence of so many other female artists. Her enthusiasm was infectious.

A couple of years later, Vicci was a contestant on Star Search and aced her first round before being voted off in the second. I recall talking to her mom, Yolanda, about a producer they were about to work with who was a writer for my magazine.  I also invited Vicci to speak to an audience of aspiring young musicians at a music camp. I heard she was busking at Seattle’s main tourist stop, the Pike Place Market.

I heard about Vicci off and on over the ensuing years. She had a loyal following in the Northwest and she was also performing in New York City where she had briefly relocated. But it really seemed like her career was at a standstill.

So imagine my surprise when, a few short months ago, I called my dear pal Beth in New York just to say hi. Lo and behold, Beth was in the middle of having lunch with her new management client, Vicci Martinez. “Vicci says hi,” she told me. Next thing I knew Beth was promoting Vicci’s appearance on The Voice. She was finally on the fast track.

I hadn’t seen her perform in a few years, but hearing Vicci’s first Voice performance, “Rolling In The Deep” brought me to tears. I was so happy to see that the hopeful adolescent I championed had matured into such a powerful and confident young woman. I’m gushing again!

Javier Colon is presented as the artist who has had as many disappointments as career opportunities but the same could be said of the three other finalists as well. Dia Frampton had a duo – Meg and Dia – with her sister and was signed to Warner Brothers. Beverly McClellan has released three albums on her own. And Vicci has been a working musician for more than half her life.

So why should Vicci Martinez win The Voice? Because she’s my girl. Go, Vicci! Bring that Voice trophy home. You’ve earned it!

And aspiring artists out there, please consider this: You can’t win if you don’t play the game.

Ladies – if you are living in the Austin area I am teaching an 8-week workshop for women called the Rock Star Career Launch. It starts on July 6th at 7PM. If interested please register here.

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7 thoughts on “Why Vicci Martinez Should Win “The Voice.”

  1. 10+ years later, I still remember that tape, and your expression when you put it on for the review committee…I don’t remember everyone who was on the committee, but I remember their expressions, too…we were like, “14? Are you sure you didn’t transpose those numbers?” Soon after that, I was doing shows in Tacoma and asking Vicci to open. A couple of years later, we were splitting shows with no opener, and a year or so after that, she was on Star Search, and I was opening for her ;-) …it was a simple natural progression for her as an artist with absolutely nothing standing in her way. The fact that she went from opening for me to having me open for her reminds me of my continued dedication to helping women in the music industry move up the ladder at the pace they are ready to move, and I am always happy to step to the side of that ladder with a smile on my face when they rocket past me into a good recording contract or an opportunity like the one Vicci has on this TV show. Thank goodness she turned American Idol down in that first season, or she’d still be under their thumb!

    I would not have watched this show if Vicci hadn’t been on it, but I’m glad I did. The way the coaches/judges picked their singers (by not being able to see them) is not new as a tactic to auditioning. (Auditions are regularly held behind curtains for orchestral musicians, especially at the college level, to discourage any discussion of favoring one gender over another), but it hasn’t been done on television before to my knowledge. The process left the judges with 16 real looking people…a true cross section of the US. Fat, thin, black, brown, white, older, younger…no limits except “can you sing”? and the answer to every single one was, “hells yeah.”

    I have, of course, been voting for Vicci almost as many times as the competition allows. (That would be 40 per voter, but I have been voting 31 instead of 40…the online voting is limited to 10, as is text voting, call in voting, and buying the single from iTunes counts as one vote, but if you buy it 10 times…well, that is kind of over the line for me, although I did send it as a gift to a few people I thought might like it…turns out they already had it. :)

    There is something to be said about Tacoma as well. Vicci is from Tacoma, and she has played there a LOT in the last 10+ years. She was and continues to be true to her local fans. Even when the show was taping, she came back and did shows in Tacoma to thank her supporters. People from Tacoma are used to people from Seattle crapping on them, and talking about how Tacoma is Seattle’s ugly step sister. Tacoma folks stick together. If Vicci had spent most of her time in Seattle, trying to break into this scene (which she did with a killer performance at the Triple Door that I opened in 2005? All I remember was asking to go on early so I could make it home in time to be available for my newborn’s 2am feeding. ;-) But she murdered that show, and has sold out that venue ever since.), she wouldn’t have had the same local support from her Tacoma fans…the mark of a savvy businesswoman who knows which side her bread is buttered on. She learned a lot from her former manager, Reed Riley, who acted as her manager, booking agent, and advisor for 10 years. Reed used to call me once a week and ask if I would share the bill with Vicci at a club or a casino or…pretty much anywhere they could get her in front of an audience. I had just stopped touring and had a new baby and was still running Indiegrrl, and I tried to turn him down as graciously as possible…I didn’t want him to stop asking, because I knew that the situation was temporary, and he was always really cool about it… but I always marveled at Vicci’s stamina, and wondered where in the hell she got her energy. Then I remembered. Oh yeah. She’s 21. :-)

    Anyway…I don’t think that people from Seattle would have gotten behind a Seattlite the way that people from Tacoma have gotten behind Vicci. The city is too fragmented, and the people are still jaded from the deluge of grunge wannabes who descended upon the city in the 90s. It is really hard to get a full house in Seattle proper anymore. I’m not talking about me, since I haven’t performed in Seattle since the show at the Triple Door last August…I’m talking about just about every performer I know has been talking about how people who perform in Seattle are just staying home and watching movies…but not in Tacoma.

    As far as the rest of “The Voice” goes…as a performer/songwriter/singer, I agree that Vicci should win. If we are talking just voice…Javier Colon is, in my opinion, the most versatile vocalist…he can sing anything you give him. The other two contestants, as talented as they are, are trailing far behind, in my opinion…so I really think it is going to come down to Vicci vs. Javier, and it is going to be close.

    Miss you, Carla! xo

    • Thank you for the trip down memory lane, Holly. And your comment about Tacoma is really interesting. Never in all this time has she ever – to my knowledge – said she was from Seattle – which someone might do who wants to sound like they are from the “big leagues.” But Seattle has many, many issues which stem from the whole grunge thing. You can’t have it both ways – shun the spotlight and court it at the same time. And that is what they have tried to do ever since. It’s an odd combination of pride and depression fueled by the oppressive weather conditions. But the moral to Vicci’s story is this: hang in there. Even if she doesn’t win she has certainly made an impact and will have doors opened for her. And if they’re not opened, Beth will certainly kick them down!! Miss you too, sweetie!!! xo

  2. Thanks so much Carla. As you and I know, this takes a village. It takes many people to create the 10+ year overnight sensation. The band, Reed, family, friends, and mostly the fans. Also as you say, you have to play the game, but ultimately it is still the same recipe, it is about the music and the soul behind the music, and Vicci has both. What an amazing time for her, and so glad to be along for the ride!!

    • Beth – I am as happy for YOU as I am for Vicci!! Everything has certainly gotten her to this point but having YOU onboard is an obvious gamechanger.

      Holly – sorry for my utter incoherence above!!

      Isn’t it thrilling to see someone we all know who has worked so hard for so long – not just plucked from the high school choir – finally have her time? She really deserves it. (Same goes for you, Bethy!!!)

      And Holly – you’d better be applying for Season II!

      Love you grls!!!

  3. If you have multiple email addresses like I do, you can vote way more than 40 times! I believe I voted for Vicci 70 times last week. Should have done more but I was tired. Great article – thanks!

  4. Thanks for the great background about our fave War Dancer!! She is as authentic as I assumed she would be. I fell in love with Vicci when I saw her blind audition and became a Vicci addict during her battle round against Nicki…. Perfect literally brought me to tears and I watched it obsessively for a week. Wish I had known about her years ago, but I am a Virginia girl and don’t make it out to Tacoma often. Lol. I am a fan for life and she IS THE VOICE!!!!!!!!

  5. Cool post. I was sure (and hoping) that Vicci would win, but oh well. Best to Javier Colon. I have no doubt that the three runners up will do well after receiving so much exposure. And unlike so often happens on American Idol, all four finalists were worthy of winning. I was so anti-The Voice before it aired (I think it had something to do with the spinning chairs!) but I’m already looking forward to next season.

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