Underground Artist of the Month November 2018

Long before his YouTube videos went viral, spawning an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and a performance with the surviving members of Queen on “American Idol,” Marc Martel spent 13 years recording and touring the globe with Canadian rockers Downhere. Not only did the rock band visit all 50 American States, but also toured throughout Europe and even Northern Africa, collecting worldwide acclaim and four Juno Awards in their native land.

After paying their dues for more than a decade in a fifteen passenger van and finally graduating to a full-fledged bus, the group wrote what they believed was the very peak of its artistry and expression, but despite the private support of radio programmers, the public never latched onto to what turned out to be Downhere’s swansong effort. Yet right around the time when that writing popped up on the wall, Martel received an email from an industry pal with a link to a contest spearheaded by the actual members of Queen.

At first, the front man almost passed on the opportunity, but with some prodding from his wife and additional friends, he casually cut a version of “Somebody To Love” in 2011, and now 30 million cumulative YouTube and Facebook views later, bolstered by the aforementioned “Ellen” appearance, Martel was declared the victor. Even legendary Queen drummer Roger Taylor remarked to the Daily Record: “That voice. You listen, close your eyes and you think it’s Freddie. It’s really uncanny.” For the last 6 years and over 160+ shows Marc has fronted Queen’s official tribute show, The Queen Extravaganza.

Fast forward to 2017, and Martel has forged for himself a unique and diverse career. He started his own Queen tribute show called The Ultimate Queen Celebration, which tours all over the world, including an upcoming Australia/New Zealand run in 2018. But Marc does not only lend his voice to rock and roll crowds, but also recently to symphony halls as he fronts Symphonic Queen with the Philharmonic Orchestra of México (OFUNAM) in Mexico City.

But even with the overwhelming demand behind Martel’s Queen-themed projects, he’s cultivated an increasingly visible solo career defined by a relentless creativity, unpredictably and practically super human abilities to simultaneously craft his own identity while flawlessly stepping into the shoes of others. In terms of his individuality, the cheekily-titled “Impersonator” (released in 2014) is an under-the-radar modern rock masterpiece produced by John Fields (also known for his work with Pink, Goo Goo Dolls, Miley Cyrus, Backstreet Boys and Switchfoot on its blockbuster “The Beautiful Letdown”) that unexpectedly spawned “Dead Ringer” as the entrance song for veteran comedian Carrot Top in Las Vegas. In 2016, he continued a Downhere tradition by releasing the EP The Silent Night which brought him back onto the Christian radio charts with his Billboard AC Monitored Top 10 single, “What Child Is This?” featuring Ron Block of Alison Krauss and Union Station.

This Christmas Marc embarks on the 2017 K-Love Christmas Tour alongside Steven Curtis Chapman, Plumb, and We Are Messengers which covers 19 cities in 24 days. He has also gone back to Christian radio with his new version of “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” featuring Plumb, which is the debut single from his upcoming EP, The First Noel, releasing in late November.

Then there’s a forthcoming covers collection, My Way Vol. 1, (coming Spring 2018) that fans have been demanding, on which Martel plans to tackle classic songs that require a massive voice, all tied together by a theme of sharing personal significance to his musical upbringing. In the meantime, he’s made additional waves performing at the direct request of Céline Dion (who avidly follows his videos) on Radio-Canada TV's “En direct de l’Universe” in 2016, plus a jaw-dropping cover of George Michael and Wham!’s “Last Christmas” for the video game “Just Dance 2017” and Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” on “Just Dance 2018". Add in performances on People.com, ten nights at the Calgary Stampede, plus various San Francisco Giants, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Hornets games, and there’s truly no limit to Martel’s unreal reach.

“I grew up believing a lie that I had to have one sound as a singer, but after I put that false belief aside, I realized I can have as many sides as I want,” sums up Martel. “I’m having the best time of my life as a professional musician right now where I’m involved with so many different things it’s impossible to get bored. Between anything Queen-related, my own recordings and these fun little side projects, I’m more diverse and happier as an artist than I’ve ever been!”

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Marc Martel