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.