Samantha Martin & Delta Blues
Friday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
5 St. Anne Street
Tickets: $32. Call 780-459-1542 or http://www.ticketmaster.ca
“Spread your wings and fly away.” That’s a line in Anne Murray’s mega hit Snowbird that is an apt description for blues singer Samantha Martin’s dominance.
It took the Edmonton-born, Toronto-based singer nearly a decade to find the right vehicle for her powerhouse vocals. But with her current group, Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, she’s found a true inner voice.
After years of experimentation with various forms of country, the raspy vocalist has developed a voice-driven hybrid where soul meets blues and gospel.
Send the Nightingale, her 2015 debut album with Delta Sugar, captured the raw energy and emotion of a chart topper. For Canadian standards, the 11-track did well selling 3,500 copies and placing at No. 1 on the 2016 Stingray Blues Chart.
Riding the momentum, Delta Sugar toured widely and performed at the 2016 Edmonton Folk Festival. In a bid to maintain their western visibility, they are booked at the Arden Theatre on Friday, Oct. 20.
“We’re very relatable. We’re very danceable and fun. I don’t take myself too seriously. I don’t get mad if a cellphone rings. I like to entertain and be lighthearted,” said Martin.
The sweet taste of success is knocking on Martin’s door, but ironically music played a minor role during her early years in Alberta. Her goal after high school was as a flight attendant.
“But that was around 9/11 and I decided to rethink what I wanted to do,” says Martin who enrolled in Grant MacEwan College’s one-year business management program.
She and her sister Tash, an esthetician, planned on opening a spa in Ontario where their father’s family lives.
“We couldn’t get the money together in time and lost out on the property.”
While living in Alberta those closest tried to discourage Martin from attempting a professional music career.
“They didn’t see how you could make a living. It was more of a fun pastime than a career.”
Determined to start somewhere, the singer-songwriter moved to Owen Sound singing at karaoke bars, open jams and taking part in contests. She developed confidence and a year later moved to Toronto.
“I was young, bright-eyed and I was told I was talented. Toronto seemed like the place to be. It wasn’t just the music. There’s so much of the business side there – the labels, the agents. I moved to get discovered.”
By 2008, Martin released her first solo record, an energetic mix of alt country. It barely sold 1,000 copies.
“I released it too quickly. I just wanted to get it out there without publicity. I needed to get reviews and get people excited about it before releasing it.”
Two years later, having learned from past mistakes, she formed Samantha Martin and the Haggard, a four-piece alt country rock and roll band. Although a distribution agent signed them up, Martin was still doing most of the work promoting the band.
“I was doing a boatload of work and everyone else had a hand in my pocket. It was very stressful. I dissolved Haggard and made Delta Sugar.”
The shift from country to soul happened naturally as Martin was listening to the charts of Mavis Staples, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding.
“The feeling just spoke to me more than country. It dealt with spirituals and soul. It dealt with love and losing and death.”
At the time Martin was recording Send the Nightingales, she learned her mother was dying of terminal cancer.
“This was a very personal record. I wanted it very stark because that was how I was feeling at the time.”
However, in 2018 Delta Sugar is releasing an as of yet untitled 10-track with bigger, brassier production elements.
“I want to focus more on soul than gospel. It’s a more upbeat album. This is my party record.”