Vicci Martinez Returning to Win More Hearts at Bayfront

Ed Newman


The lineup for ReaderFest is impressive with so many of our favorite local performers whom we can’t get enough of because there aren’t enough hours in a day. The headliner will be a young woman who stole the show at last year’s Bluesfest, Vicci Martinez, a performer and songwriter who has gained national attention through NBC’s singing competition The Voice.

“She’s excited to be out performing again,” said her agent Beth Tallman. And she’s thrilled to be returning to the Northland for this week’s ReaderFest.  

Those who think she’s an overnight sensation have it wrong. With more than a dozen years in the business, Martinez “is a testament to the power of perseverance, soul, and hard work,” according to the Seattle Music Insider.

Tuesday evening we caught up with her as she was about to catch a plane. “Duluth was a really good time. The show was fun. The people were fun. What was really fun was that night when I went to see Brandi Carlile and she let me get up on stage with her.” Everything about it was sweet, she said. And this Saturday evening she’s back. “It’s a good time. I enjoy the experience of playing a live show and just making it fun.”

Music has always been a part of her life. “Growing up around my house, my parents played all kinds of music. I’m a big fan of Michael Jackson, The Beatles.”

But two performers made a special impact. “For me, someone that really triggered and inspired me was Sarah McLachlan. She was doing Lilith Fair here when I was twelve or thirteen.” Lilith Fair was a travelling music festival consisting of female solo artists and female-led bands. “And I said, ‘Oh wow! Look at these women, these musicians that I never would have heard of.’”

The second performer who made a life-changing impact was Dave Matthews. “I went to his concert when I was fourteen and just the experience I had there made me say, ‘I want to be on stage doing the same thing that that guy is doing.’  It was so much fun sitting there watching it, but there was this pull in me that said, ‘I want to just do that. I want to be on stage with great musicians.’”

How long did it take for the Dave Matthews experience to take root? “I think probably then, that actual day. I started putting a band together.”

Martinez knew it would be a lot of work, but she was excited about the possibilities. Nine albums later and getting signed with a record label, Universal Republic, has been more than rewarding. But very early on she saw the road ahead and went after her dream. “I think recently getting signed and having my songs played on the radio… made me say, ‘Wow, this really is happening.’”

Knowing her audience is “having an experience,” while she’s performing on stage is important to Martinez. “I’m playing for them, not for me,” she said.

Her current album is called Vicci. Like her other albums – she’s been out an album a year – the songs and music are all her own. Her current band has been with her for about five or six years. She also has a band in L.A. that she performs with.

“I’m the writer, it’s my music, but when you play live it’s all of us on stage, so it’s important to have a great relationship with everybody.” Vicci is the leader, “but I make it fun for all of us.”

And for us in the audience as well.