Vicci Martinez isn't worried about the rules.
The singer-songwriter continually goes against the grain both musically and lyrically. She doesn't adhere to guidelines of what pop music is supposed to be or how it should be presented. Given her penchant for writing honest, heartfelt songs, she doesn't have to either. When she hits the studio or the stage, she nods to soulful folk and classic rock with an immortal R&B groove beneath everything. On her forthcoming debut album for Universal Republic Records, VICCI, the world will get to see Vicci for who she is, and it might just be a better place because of it.
Her genuine spirit courses through the fabric of every song she writes on the album. Whether it's a revealing autobiographical ballad or a groove-driven rocker, the music ebbs and flows with a raw and real fire from the energy of "Come Along" to the honesty of "Let Go." Vicci's been working toward this for her whole life.
For as long as she can remember, she knew that she would play music. After her older sister gave up violin, she picked it up at six-years-old, taking proper lessons for five years. Eventually, she traded the violin for a guitar and began writing songs driven by diverse influences ranging from Led Zeppelin and The Beatles to Sarah McLachlan and Gloria Estefan.
Impressed by the first song she wrote, her dad decided it was time for his daughter to pursue music more seriously. He'd bring the young Vicci to local Tacoma, Washington farmer's markets in order to play impromptu. She'd open up her case or put a hat out, and audiences would watch stunned by her powerful voice and presence.
After spending high school honing her talents, she began releasing music independently in 2003. Touring the country for almost a decade, she released seven independent albums culminating with 2011's Live from Jazzbones. Along the way, she shared stages with everyone from Sting and Annie Lennox to The Supersuckers and Jonny Lang. However, NBC's television show The Voice came calling in early 2011, and that opened doors for the next phase of her career.
"They asked me to try out, and I really didn't want to do it at first," the artist reveals. "I did Star Search in 2003 and had tried out for American Idol. I decided to give it a chance though. The fact that the show is called The Voice was so much deeper to me. It wasn't simply about my singing voice but what I have to say. I was in the right place at the right time. I took every song on the show and made it my own, and I didn't let myself get pulled in any direction. I did what came naturally."
That's precisely why she landed in the show's top four after riveting and roaring performances of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" and an explosive duet with coach Cee Lo Green of Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield". However, it was her stunning live performances of “Jolene” and “Dog Days Are Over” as well as the original song that was written for her, “Afraid To Sleep,” where she shined the brightest. Vicci's robust delivery of these tune's made the tracks instant hits online.. She also began to resonate with listeners everywhere as a group of young female fans banded together to assemble the Vicci Martinez Army in honor of her.
On VICCI, she does exactly that. "Come Along" sees Martinez engaged in an unforgettable and undeniable duet with Voice coach Cee Lo Green. About the song she says, "I think the lyrics are really important for people today, especially for our generation. I feel this is a step that I’ve been trying to take and by singing this song. I’m asking everyone else to come along with me and take a stand."
"I Can Love" delivers a positive declaration of feeling. In many ways, the song encapsulates her personal ethos. "Everything I do is based on love," observes Martinez. This song is about empowerment and to remind us that we do have hearts and we should use them."
Her heart beats loudly on the album closer "Little Faith". It's intimately infectious as Martinez assures a friend, "I´ll catch you if you fall. So, please have a little faith in me."
A centerpiece of the album is the ballad to her father "Let Go". She gives him a fitting remembrance that's bound to reverberate in the hearts of listeners everywhere. "Right when someone dies, there's a lot of sadness," she goes on. "You can live in it for a long time; some people live there forever. There comes a point to let go of the sadness and embrace the fact that I'm living here without my father, yet I never let go because he is always a part of me. I wanted to let go of the pain so I could remember the love. For everyone that leaves us, we have a responsibility to liver harder and live for them."
There's a deeper message to her writing. "I'm writing about really honest subjects," she continues. “I did The Voice so I could trigger that fire in people to pursue their dreams."
Ultimately, that honesty hits the hardest, even if it breaks a couple rules in the process. "I hope people realize they can heal themselves and their hearts," concludes Vicci.